The California probate process should factor into any estate plans you make, especially considering the extra steps needed to go through probate. As with any legal process, you need to have a basic understanding of probate to comprehend the estate planning process. Most individuals believe that the last will should be used to transfer assets. This is undoubtedly an option, but you should be aware that the will would enter the probate process after your death. The probate process is not always bad, and it can offer protection to those parties who are interested. However, it can also make it more difficult for the estate’s legitimate heirs.
Although the probate process may be necessary for some situations, each estate is different, and the factors that seem amenable to one guarantor may be unusable for another. Anything from trial lengths to the costs and fees associated with the probate process can be a big problem for other estates, and with unclear wills or public hearings, the probate process can create a messy situation for any possible beneficiaries. Some of the biggest areas of frustration relating to the probate process include:
Many of the difficulties of probate can be avoided with careful estate planning. A living trust is a great tool for transferring real estate, money or bank accounts, cars, and other personal property to beneficiaries in a tidy, timely, and private manner. The contents of a living trust do not become public records, in contrast to a final will and testament, preserving the privacy of heirs and beneficiaries. Another way to transfer real estate to a surviving spouse without going through probate is through a community property agreement.
A: Depending on each case, the most detrimental drawback of the probate process can vary. There are numerous drawbacks to probating a will. The probate procedure is expensive, drawn-out, and intrusive. The costs associated with the court, legal counsel, personal representatives, bonds, and accounting all add up and can create a much bigger ordeal than expected.
A: By operation of California probate law, any type of property that the deceased did not own personally is regarded as non-probate property. These common assets are specifically given to your heirs by way of your will and do not have a specific beneficiary tied to their title. They could be anything, including vehicles, personal goods, life insurance policies, real estate, and accounts with transfers on death.
A: According to the California Probate Code, estates with a value of $166,250 or less do not need to be probated for decedents who passed away before April 1, 2022. Deaths occurring on or after April 1, 2022, are subject to a $184,500 threshold. If the estate has a value greater than this, probate is required.
A: The best way to make sure your loved ones avoid the hassle of the probate process is to have a thorough estate plan in place. Such a plan should include the following:
These can all increase your likelihood of avoiding probate and should be worked into your estate plan for future use.
Before trying to avoid the probate process on your own, speaking to an estate planning attorney about your future is necessary for creating a long-lasting, legally sound estate. Your attorney can provide you with advice regarding probate and the proper steps to take so that your heirs will have an easier time inheriting your assets when you pass away, whether you are creating your estate plan or have issues with your current plan.
If you are having problems with the probate process and are unsure of what to do next, a lawyer who is knowledgeable about it may be able to assist you. At Sweeney Probate Law, we can help you create an estate plan to help your estate avoid the probate process. For more information, contact us today.