At its simplest, probate can be a complicated process to navigate. It can become an even more challenging ordeal when further complexities arise, like conflicts regarding the executor or administrator or someone being upset about how the will distributes the estate. There may also be complex challenges around paying debts, selling assets, and even situations where there is no will. However, one of the more difficult parts of the process can often be understanding what assets are even subject to the probate process in the first place.
Probate is a process for managing the distribution of the assets of the deceased. It also involves notifying those who may have an interest in the assets, closing out outstanding debts, and paying estate taxes. If certain steps haven’t been taken to shield assets from probate, then most of a person’s assets will generally be subject to probate. The assets which must typically go through probate in California include:
The assets in question could be all manner of things, from houses and vehicles to stocks and money in a bank account. It could even be an old collection of baseball cards or comic books. It’s all subject to probate unless it is a part of a class of items sheltered from probate. These include:
At times, people may wish to avoid probate by creating something like a living trust. While a living trust may be a more expensive upfront cost, this can end up being a better option for large or complex estates. Generally, people looking for an option like this, while hoping to avoid probate, are doing so because probate can be a drawn-out, costly process, while a living trust can be executed more quickly. Probate is also a matter of public record, so those looking to guard their privacy may prefer the option of trust.
A: The probate process can be a costly, lengthy, and public affair. It follows a structure set out by California law:
A: Some assets are not subject to the process of probate. This can often be desirable for people, as the probate process can take longer, is more costly, and is also public, meaning that the assets and their distribution will be publicly known. For this reason, many people try to avoid probate with much of their estate. For that to be an option, the assets must fit into specific categories, including assets:
A: Generally, assets that aren’t exempt from probate are subject to probate. California law does not require probate in cases where the total value of the probate-eligible assets does not exceed $166,250. However, if the value does exceed that limit, then some of the assets that will be subject to the probate process include:
A: A living trust is an effective means of handling complex, large estates in a way that can avoid probate. Assets are placed in the trust, and there are legal instructions as to how those things will be distributed to beneficiaries upon death. The trust will name a trustee, who is responsible for overseeing the distribution. The assets may still be managed by the owner, even while in the trust, before their death. What makes it a living trust is that it can be changed and altered if desired.
At Sweeney Probate Law, we help people through probate. The process can be difficult to navigate, but we try to make it as simple and painless as possible. Probate can sometimes be contentious, and already fragile emotions can run hot. Working with a lawyer can be one way of keeping things from getting out of control. Our probate attorney can help ensure that the executor or administrator follows protocols as quickly and efficiently as possible while adhering to what has been laid out in a will. If you need probate help, contact our office today.