Probate is a term that many are aware of but do not fully understand. The term probate refers to the process that occurs after a person passes away and his or her assets are disposed of. The reason probate is tied to estate planning is because when no planning is done, the laws of the state govern how assets are distributed. A person who is hardworking, honest, and has limited assets may make the mistake of relying on California probate laws instead of investing in a will. However, before you decide to put your estate solely in the hands of the California court system, learn why probate is bad for you and your heirs.
One of the first and foremost tangible downsides to probate are the costs. A person who has no estate plan in place and no will leaves his or her loved ones in a position of relying on a probate court to distribute assets. The court fees in California are a percentage of the estate that is determined by the final value of the estate. Whoever is named as the personal representative is also able to charge a fee as are any accountants, business owners responsible for appraisals, and anyone else who is appointed by the probate court to help value or otherwise administer the state.
Probate can take well over a year to complete, especially if the person who passed away left behind a great deal of assets or a complicated financial legacy. In the best case scenarios, probate can take nine months to complete. Probate is time consuming because the court and representatives must locate all assets, determine how to divide them, or liquidate assets if necessary. These tasks would all be unnecessary if an estate plan or will was already in place, providing information and instructions that were necessary.
Once an estate goes through the probate process, the financial details of the estate become a matter of public record. Not only does this make it easier for creditors to start demanding compensation from the estate, but it also places you and your family under additional financial scrutiny. Those closest to you will be able to find out details about your family’s finances that you might have preferred to keep private and you may also find yourself targeted by scammers. Probate fraud has increased in recent years and public records are one of the reasons scammers are able to target victims using highly specific information.
Call a Probate Attorney
The best way to protect your family from probate related problems is to avoid the process altogether. Contacting a skilled probate attorney gives you an opportunity to explore different options that are available and determine how best to keep your estate safe from a lengthy probate process. The Claremont, California based attorneys at MMZ Law understand how important retaining control of your estate is. We work on your behalf to come up with a unique estate plan that reflects your wishes while complying with California state law. Call our office today at 909-256-6702 to schedule your initial consultation.
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.