Q: Does an estate always have to be probated?
Q: What are probate assets?
Q: How does a probate begin?
Q: What is an executor?
Q: How is a probate petition approved?
Q: How long does probate take?
Q: Will I receive notification of a probate I am involved in?
Q: What are the probate fees in California?
After the death of a loved one, their estate is distributed according to
a will or court-appointed administration. In either case, the assets of
the deceased are gathered and prepared for distribution. This process
is known as
, and the laws regarding probate procedure vary from one state to another.
Many questions may arise during the process, especially in how to avoid
a prolonged ordeal and extra costs.
To understand the legal process of probate law in California and work to
avoid extra cost during the procedures, retain an experienced Orange County
Does an estate always have to be probated?
There are several situations where probate may not be necessary. For example,
if the assets of the deceased are in joint tenancy with someone else,
survivorship property, or a living trust, those assets do not require
probate. Assets can also be transferred to domestic partners through Spousal
Property Petitions. If the total value of an estate that cannot be transferred
to inheritors is smaller than $150,000, the estate does not have to be probated.
What are probate assets?
Most assets held in the name of the deceased are generally considered
probate assets. Assets may not be probated if they are owned in joint
tenancy, living trusts, or other legal transfer agreements. If an asset
is not designated for distribution by a legal arrangement, it is considered
a probate asset.
How does a probate begin?
Probate cases begin by filing a petition for probate at a probate court.
Usually, this court must be in the county where the decedent lived. The
petition provides information about the decedent, executor, heirs, and
What is an executor?
Also known as an administrator or personal representative, an executor
is responsible for managing the probate estate, including inventory preparation,
tax filings, bill payments, and estate distribution. Executors are either
nominated in a will or appointed by a probate court. California state
law allows that, without a named executor, the deceased's closest
relatives have the highest priority to be nominated as executor.
How is a probate petition approved?
Court staff members called probate examiners review the file and ensure
the petition complies with state laws. They make a recommendation to the
judge about whether to approve or deny the petition. The judge makes the
decision about whether to hear the case or not. If a petitioner disagrees
with the judge's decision, they may be able to hold a hearing to present
a case for reversing the decision.
How long does probate take?
Without any unusual problems or contests, probate may conclude in eight
to twelve months. This accounts for a four-month claims period for creditors
as well as the time it takes for a filed petition to be heard. A probate
case with difficult issues or multiple contests could take more than a
year to complete.
Will I receive notification of a probate I am involved in?
California state law requires notices to be sent to all heirs, beneficiaries,
and proposed executors. The notice will have information on the date and
time of the hearing as well as the courthouse that the case will be heard in.
What are the probate fees in California?
California statutes set out a "statutory fee" that allows attorneys
to charge a percentage of the asset value instead of charging by the hour
or a flat fee. The rates vary depending on the gross value of the estate.
This may affect how high attorney fees are in a case.
The statutory fee percentage rates include the following:
- 4% of first $100,000 of gross estate value
- 3% of next $100,000
- 2% of next $800,000
- 1% of next $9 million
- .5% of next $15 million
A Mishandled Probate May Cost You More
The probate process may take months, or it may take years, depending on
the complexity of the case and probate contests. Retaining an attorney
may lead to extra expenses, but improper handling of a probate case may
also lead to unexpected and unnecessary costs to all parties involved.
Our Orange County probate lawyers have nearly
25 years of experience and seek to offer
flexible payment options for our clients. If you are seeking valuable legal guidance with affordability in mind,
contact our firm today!