Under California law, even with a will, if a person dies holding title to over one hundred thousand dollars in assets, the estate must be probated. A living trust avoids the time and expense of probate. Probate takes on average eight to twelve months to complete and fees are based on a percentage of the gross value of the decedent’s estate. A trust can also avoid the need for a conservatorship which can be restrictive, costly, and time-consuming. For a trust to be effective, your assets must be placed in the name of the trust.
Although a will must be probated, it is an effective means of ensuring that your property is distributed according to your wishes. If you do not have a will, your estate will be distributed as required by the California Probate Code. A simple will can direct how your assets will be distributed and can be used to designate legal guardians for dependents. These are decisions that you, not the court, should make.
The process of reviewing your will and estate by the court is called Probate. The court will review the will to determine if it is authentic and consistent with state law. The courts will also make sure that all debts are settled and all taxes are paid. After the will is validated and all claims have been paid and documented with the court, the representative of the estate is free to pay out the balance of the estate to the beneficiaries named in the will. The probate process typically takes from six months to a year, and heirs do not receive their inheritance until the process is complete.
There are also rules the court follows on who receives your assets when there is no valid will. These rules are called the Laws of Intestacy and generally dictate that your spouse will receive your probate estate outright, or share it with your children from before the marriage. If there is no surviving spouse or children, your estate would be distributed to other family members, and if no family members then to the State in which the property is located.
The Sacramento lawyers at Nonye Ugorji Law Corporation can assist with filing the court documents required to probate the will of a family member or loved one.
A proper estate plan is the best way to avoid probate, minimize estate taxes, plan for incapacity, and manage assets for minors and young adults. A comprehensive estate plan includes a Trust, Pour-Over Will, Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Management, and Advanced Health Care Directive.
A wide range of probate and trust services are also available. Services include, but are not limited to, the following subjects: Real Property Set-Aside Petitions, Spousal Property Petitions, Small Estates, Revocable Trusts, Special Needs Trusts, Irrevocable Trusts, MediCal Qualifications, Durable Power of Attorney, Advanced Health Care Directive, Probate Avoidance, and Asset Protection.
Need an attorney in California? Whether you need business assistance or other personal legal assistance, you may reach us anytime at 916-925-1894.