Probate is the court's procedure to appoint someone to manage a deceased person's estate, decide who is legally entitled to his or her home, accounts, and personal property, and to supervise the process.
Good question! It is a common misconception that a Last Will and Testament keeps your family out of probate. When a person passes away, their Will has to be filed with the court and the probate process begins.
A Living Trust is often the best way to avoid probate. If you haven’t created a Living Trust as part of your personal estate plan, ask our attorneys how to ensure that your heirs will avoid probate if you and your spouse pass away.
If there’s a Will, the representative is the Executor named in the Will, or the Successor Executor if the primary Executor is deceased or does not wish to take on his or her duties.
If there is no Will, the law gives a priority list for who should be the administrator. The surviving spouse or legal domestic partner is at the top of the list, with children as the second category, grandchildren as the third, and so on.
Yes you can. We have clients all over the United States whose loved one owned property in California. We currently serve San Bernardino and San Diego Counties, including:
A probate must be opened in any county in which your loved one owned property.
The average probate in California takes 18 months to complete; however, hiring an experienced attorney can help you shorten this process and gain legal access to your loved one’s assets quickly – often within weeks of meeting with your attorney.
The idea of legal fees and court costs is often overwhelming. It’s important to know that all of the costs are paid out of your loved one’s assets – not your personal funds.
Initial costs include the court’s filing fees, publication, and certified copy costs, which generally require an upfront investment of approximately $1,000.00. These upfront costs will be reimbursed to you at the end of the probate process.
Other costs include the appraisal fee charged by the probate referee and the cost of a bond, which both can range drastically depending on the value of the estate.
Any attorney in California may only charge the statutory fees that are set by the California Probate Code. These fees are based on the gross value of the estate and paid out of the estate’s assets at the end of the probate process:
4% of the first $100,000 of the estate
3% from $100,000 - $200,000
2% from $200,000 - $1,000,000
1% from $1,000,000 - $10,000,000
0.5% from $10,000,000+
The Executor of the estate also receives the “statutory fees” set above as payment for fulfilling the job of Executor. In addition, the Executor will be reimbursed for any funds spent on their loved one’s behalf.
If an asset is not properly transferred to a Living Trust during a person’s lifetime, a probate may be required. Sometimes, in this case, a shortened version of probate is available, known as a “Summary Probate.” Your attorney can advise you as to whether this applies to you and help you through this process as well.
Probate: The court process for assessing who is entitled to a deceased person’s assets, paying his or her debts, and settling his or her financial affairs.
Administrator (or Personal Representative): The person appointed by the court to manage the estate of the person who dies without a Will.
Executor: The person named in a Will and appointed by the court to manage an estate.
Heir: A person who inherits a deceased person’s estate when there is no Will.
Beneficiary: A person who is named in a Will to inherit the deceased person’s estate.
Intestate: When someone passes away without a Will.
Real Property: Buildings and land.
Personal Property: Things like cash, stocks, jewelry, personal items, and vehicles.
Living Trust: A contract created during the lifetime of a person to distribute money or property to another person or organization, generally created to avoid the probate process.