Probate often has a bad reputation.

There are a lot of myths that perpetuate that reputation as well. You may have heard people say it is expensive, time-consuming and stressful. On top of that, there are many sources out there advising people to avoid probate.

This can leave people wondering whether or not they have to go through probate at all.

It depends on the circumstances – not your choice

Whether or not your loved one’s will, property and assets must go through probate depends on your loved one’s circumstances. You do not usually get to decide.

Determining whether their property goes through the formal probate process depends on a few factors, including:

  • The total value of your loved one’s estate;
  • How your loved one owned property; and
  • How they bequeathed property, through a will or trust.

Some assets and small estates qualify for a simplified probate process. However, the majority of estates must go through the probate process. Even so, you might still wonder why it is necessary.

So, what does probate do for you?

Probate is all about protection. The California courts describe probate as the process of:

  • Determining that the will is valid;
  • Confirming the executor;
  • Finding all of the heirs and beneficiaries;
  • Collecting and valuing all of the property; and
  • Resolving your loved one’s financial responsibilities.

Therefore, it protects your loved one’s wishes, but also your family’s rights to inherit your loved one’s property. It is a legal and official process to transfer your loved one’s property while preventing fraud and preserving your loved one’s legacy.