The residents of California are lucky in that the probate process isn’t especially difficult. Unfortunately, it can be expensive. California is unique in that it is one of the few states that let lawyers charge a fee based on the percentage of the assets going through probate.
These rates are set out in the California probate law. For example, a lawyer can charge 4% for the first $100,000 of the gross value of the estate. That percentage gradually goes down as the estate value goes up.
Curious what else you need to know about the probate process in California? We’ve got 4 things you should know to help you get started.
You don’t have to go to probate court, or you could avoid having the bulk of your assets go through probate court. As we just learned the fee structure of attorneys, this fact could save you and your loved ones a lot of money.
Joint accounts, transfer on death accounts, joint tenancy, and joint ownership are all ways of avoiding probate. With each of these, there are two people who have a legal claim to the property in question.
So when one of those people passes, the other automatically takes full ownership. There is nothing for the court to do here, so this property avoids probate.
The personal representative will have to pay for the deceased’s funeral and any owed taxes out of the estate. If there isn’t enough cash value in the estate, they have the authority to sell off the estate assets to cover these costs.
Assuming that the land isn’t sold during the last step, it will then be passed to the heir. If there is a will, it will pass according to the deceased’s wishes.
If there is no will, the state of California has developed a method for determining who inherits. This is called the intestate succession laws.
This brings us to fact number 4, if you own property, you need a will. This could be real estate, cars, homes, or anything of significant value.
The only way to be sure that your belongings go to the loved ones you intend is to make the court and executor aware. You do this by writing a will of your wishes.
Without this vital document, the court is left to assume your wishes. This becomes a laborious process and requires following the intestate laws. Meanwhile, conflict can arise among your heirs over who inherits what.
When a loved one passes it is always a devastating and emotional time. The last thing you want to think about is the details of settling their estate and probate law.
Hopefully, we have given you some helpful insights into the process that can help make it easier. The best thing to do is to prepare in advance.
If you are unsure of where to start, talking with an experienced probate attorney can help. They can help you prepare your assets to avoid probate and prepare a will for the rest.
If you are ready to write up a will and prepare your wishes, then you need to find an estate planning lawyer. Be sure to use these 5 tips to find the best.