Understanding what to know about California probate can be challenging. Most people do not experience it until a loved one dies and they end up dealing with the California probate court about a will or the lack of a will. At the Law Office of Andrew Fesler , we are well prepared to assist families with the California’s probate requirements.
So one of the first things to know about California probate is what it is and its purpose. It is the state’s legal process that takes place after someone passes away. Its purpose is to supervise the final details of the decedent’s estate by paying outstanding taxes, paying off debts, and distributing assets to beneficiaries according to their Last Will and Testament. If a person dies without a will (called intestate), probate will determine the final administration of the estate and distributes assets according to the California laws of succession.
Another thing to know about California probate is, unfortunately, in California the probate process can be time-consuming. The duration of the probate process can vary depending on the complexity of the estate and any challenges or disputes that arise.
On average, it takes around nine to eighteen months to complete probate, although more complex cases or cases where challenges occur will take longer. An example of a challenge is if a relative of the deceased challenges the validity of the will.
During the probate process, the Probate court verifies the will, appoints an executor or administrator for the estate, and oversees the distribution of assets and paying off debts out of the estate such as taxes.
California’s probate process incurs various costs, which are typically paid from the estate’s assets. These costs may include:
The fees are typically calculated based on the value of the estate. While there is no fixed percentage, it is common for the fees to be a percentage of the estate’s value or a combination of flat and percentage fees. It is best to consult us on Estate Administration and Probate to understand the specific costs associated with your situation.
Probate versus Non Probate: Not all assets go through probate in California. Some assets can be transferred directly to beneficiaries outside the probate process. These non-probate assets include assets held in Trusts, joint tenancy property, life insurance policies with designated beneficiaries, and assets with a valid transfer-on-death (TOD) or payable-on-death (POD) designation.
Understanding the distinction between probate and non-probate assets can significantly simplify the administration process. Attorney Fesler can discuss with you these differences when you work with him to create your estate plan including setting up a Revocable Trust, as well with those persons having to deal with probate after a death.
California offers alternatives to the traditional probate process, which can help streamline estate administration and reduce costs. One such option is the Small Estate Affidavit, which can be used for estates valued at $166,250 or less, excluding certain assets.
Additionally, a Revocable Trust (Living Trust) are commonly used to avoid probate altogether by transferring assets to the trust during your lifetime. It is what Attorney Fesler recommends to his clients as a great way to distribute assets instead of using a will and having to go through probate.
It is sometimes called a Living Trust because while you are living, you can continually make changes to the terms of the trust as long as you are alive and mentally competent.
Many of my clients are people who are either beneficiaries or are related in some way to the deceased and are left to deal with the estate. They find hiring me as an experienced probate attorney is the easiest way to sort out what to do. Navigating the California probate process can be complex, and it is crucial to seek professional guidance and legal assistance. My staff and I help ensure that the probate process runs smoothly, deadlines are met, and legal requirements are fulfilled.
Part of what we do is identifying and gathering assets, document preparation, representation in court, and providing guidance on tax implications and asset distribution. My attorney fees are typically paid from the estate.
Understanding the complexities of the California probate process is essential when dealing with the California Probate process. If you have been tasked with being the executor or administrator of a will, or if a loved one has passed without a will, having an experienced probate attorney to help you navigate the process is often a godsend. If you are in this situation, call the Law Office of Andrew Fesler at (760) 444-0943. From identifying assets, verifying the will, to organizing what is needed for probate, we will help you.
One of the most important things I emphasize to my estate planning clients is planning properly so that your assets do not have to go through California probate upon your passing. The estate plans I design usually includes a trust which avoids probate and a certain type of will call a Pour Over Will.
With our customer-centered approach and as a sole practitioner, I believe that each client deserves quality service and thoughtful guidance that is individualized to meet their needs. With careful planning, together we can protect your assets while you are alive and then have your beneficiaries and loved ones avoid the headache of California probate when you die.
Contact our office in Carlsbad today to find out more about revocable trusts, probate, or how we can help you with all aspects of comprehensive estate planning in California. I can even travel to a mutually convenient place to set up your estate plans.