The primary reason most people invest in estate planning is to avoid probate. The process of probate is often time consuming, tedious, and involves court officials administering an estate. While usually, taking steps to prevent probate court from becoming involved in estate management is advisable, there are times when probate is not a bad thing. Knowing when probate administration helps more than it hurts can ease some of the stress associated with going to probate court.
There are Multiple Creditors
In a country that is plagued by debt, it is not unusual for a person to pass away owing a large amount of money to multiple creditors. When this happens, the size of the estate can be reduced to almost nothing, leaving heirs in a terrible financial situation. However, if the probate court is involved, the estate will be administered by officials who understand laws regarding collecting debt from an estate. Instead of dealing with creditor claims trickling in over the years, the probate court will ensure that only creditors who submit their claims in a timely manner get paid, and they will also verify that creditor claims are valid.
The Estate is Small
While it is true that some estates can spend years in probate, if the estate is small, it might be possible to expedite the probate process. If the estate’s total assets are less than $150,000, assets may be passed down through a will or go through probate quickly if there is no will. The court does not want to spend months or years handling each case and will do everything possible to get small estates taken care of quickly.
Only a Spouse is Left Behind
Sometimes a person does not have a large number of beneficiaries, meaning the estate is not going to be distributed among a large number of people. When a person passes away leaving behind only a spouse, probate court may pass all assets on to that spouse. The only way things could become complicated is if another person disputes this decision, forcing the court to administer the estate while the manner is resolved.
No One is Comfortable Administering the Estate
The administration of an estate is a tedious and thankless job. Not only does the administrator have to contend with creditors, he or she must also answer the questions of beneficiaries and maintain regular communication with them. A person with a family, a job, and other responsibilities may not be able to invest a great deal of time into managing a loved one’s estate. Occasionally, those who do have the time to administer the estate are not comfortable with the responsibility or feel they are not qualified to have control over the estate. When this happens, probate court becomes a lifesaver for taking on an unwanted responsibility.
Getting answers to your questions from a probate attorney is the best way to decide whether or not avoiding probate is something you should focus on when estate planning. The legal team at MMZ Law is here to answer your legal questions and provide you with the advice you need. Contact us to schedule an appointment at our conveniently located Claremont, California office today so that we can begin assisting you immediately.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY:
MMZ LAW, A PROFESSIONAL CORPORATION
341 W. 1st St. Suite 100
Claremont, CA 91711
MARIVEL M. ZIALCITA is the founder of MMZ LAW, A Professional Corporation, where she practices in the areas of Elder Law – Medi-Cal Planning Asset Protection, Trust & Estate, Special Needs, Conservatorship, Trust Administration, & Probate. Ms. Zialcita is a frequent speaker on trust and estate matters and holds memberships in the State Bar of California, Trust and Estate Section, The San Bernardino County Bar Association, Wealth Counsel and Elder Counsel. She currently assists in the pro bono legal services program at the James L. Brulte Senior Center in Rancho Cucamonga, California. She is based in Claremont but assists clients throughout Southern California.
This information is educational information only and not legal advice.