When a loved one passes away with just a will, or no estate plan, the assets and liabilities of that individual passes through a court-supervised process called "Probate." Probate Courts transfer a deceased person’s assets to the beneficiaries listed in his or her will. The first step in many Probate proceedings is locating the will, and once found, filing it with the probate court. This is usually done by the executor appointed in your will, and if there is no will, then a family member usually starts the probate process.
There are some disadvantages with letting your estate pass through the probate proceeding: First, probates are public, meaning that the value of your assets will become public record. Second, probate proceedings are time consuming. The process ties up property for months and sometimes more than a year. A probate proceeding generally takes longer than the administration of a living trust. Finally, and what many consider the biggest reason to avoid probate, is the expensive cost associated with the process. In California, the lawyer fees and executor commissions are based on a statutory fee schedule.
Here are the current rates as set out in California state statutes (Cal. Probate Code §§ 10810, 10811):
4% of the first $100,000 of the gross value of the probate estate
3% of the next $100,000
2% of the next $800,000
1% of the next $9 million
.5% of the next $15 million
Contact us today so we can assist you in avoiding the confusing, frustrating, and archaic process of Probate Courts. One of the many ways to avoid probate is to execute a living trust. If, however, you find yourself in probate, we will guide you every step of the way to ensure that your loved one's wishes are honored in Probate Court.