Fear is an involuntary response for most people upon hearing the word “probate.” Many misconceptions concerning the process continue to perpetuate throughout California, needlessly adding stress to the lives of people who are already grieving the losses of loved ones. In reality, the probate process can be a helpful and necessary aspect of the estate administration process.
Most people create wills with the impressions that they will automatically exclude their estates from having to go through probate. However, state law requires that any estate worth more than $100,000 pass through probate, even in the presence of a will. During this time, the executor, or the person named by the deceased to handle the estate, goes to court in order to pay any estate taxes and the distribute assets to beneficiaries. In the event that a will is not present at the time of a person’s death, the court appoints an administrator to fill in as an executor.
Those who are not so concerned with the process but, rather, are focused on the amount of time it takes are perhaps warranted in their worry. Especially difficult or troublesome estates can linger in probate for significant periods of time, especially if family members file petitions over the handling of the estates or assets. The right guidance can shave off time off the process, and our firm has concluded probate proceedings in as little as six months.
While it is true that estate planning can be used to avoid the probate process in some circumstances, many estates will need to pass through the courts no matter which legal documents are used. We understand that many people in California feel as though this is an unnecessary burden, but it can be invaluable to ensure the proper handling of an estate and the distribution of its assets. Those still concerned with the possible implications of the probate process can find additional information on the process located on our website.