The greatest downside of dying without a plan is that the state of California, NOT YOU, determines who inherits from you. Furthermore, it’s all a matter of public record. Below we have listed four (4) key ways our qualified team of probate attorneys can help you.
Probate Lawyers in the Inland Empire & Orange County with offices in Chino & Tustin
We are here to help you avoid probate in the future by putting your estate into a living trust. We are also here to help when
your loved one passes away without the benefit of a trust.
(909) 334-1425 OFFICE / INFO@VOORHEESLAWGROUP.COM
Avoid a Probate Proceeding Following Your Death
We will help you develop a trust that best suits your needs and avoids the timely, public, expensive probate process. Whether it is a revocable trust, irrevocable trust, charitable trust or special needs trust, our experienced attorneys can work with you to create a strategy that will protect and preserve your valuable assets.
If you have minors at home and something happens to you, the court will not know who YOU think the best choice is to act as guardian. Even where there is a will, the public forum will give disgruntled heirs, ex-spouses, and creditors a forum to dispute the appointment of an executor and the distribution of the assets. More often than not, the probate process will end up costing your heirs significantly more than if you had done some simple planning. The good news is that a simple trust can avoid these pitfalls.
Providing Administrative Help After Death
Sometimes, things get very complicated. Our attorneys help our clients through the probate process by resolving sticky situations. These extraordinary circumstances may include:
- Assisting with the maintenance or sale of real property
- Resolving tax issues for a decedent
- Addressing outstanding debts of a decedent
- Litigating a will contest
- Addressing fraud, undue influence, elder abuse
Avoid a Probate Proceedings for Loved Ones
When a loved one dies without a trust, there are some circumstances where probate can be avoided all together or where limited court proceedings need to take place. Our attorneys understand the process and can help identify situations where the time and expense of probate can be minimized, including:
- When all of the community property is left to a surviving spouse
- When creditor claims exceed the value of the estate
- Where the value of personal property and/or real property is under $150,000
- Where the value of real property is under $50,000
Paperwork Preparation & Attending Court Hearings
Where proceedings are necessary, our team is here to take your case from beginning to end. From filing a probate petition to handling complicated transfers, our attorneys represent executors, administrators, personal representatives and creditors as they navigate the Probate waters. Our team can help with the following:
- Filing a probate petition
- Getting our clients appointed to serve as executor/personal administrator
- Objecting to filed petitions by other family members
- Filing all necessary paperwork for the sale and distribution of property
- Providing necessary notices to creditors, family members and heirs
- Preparing inventories and accountings
California Probate Services
Probate is the court supervised process of collecting the decedent’s assets and distributing them appropriately to creditors and beneficiaries. Depending on whether your state has adopted the Uniform Probate Code (UPC), the process may differ; however, the fundamentals remain the same. The probate begins with designating an executor, who will then file the necessary documents, appraise and administer the estate and file all required taxes.
The Cost of California Probate
The cost of probate varies depending on the value and type of the estate that requires probating. The more valuable the estate, the more the probate process tends to cost. Probate cost is broken out into several different categories, here is the breakdown:
Fees Paid to the Court
There is a fee payable to the Court) for each petition you have to file. In simple probate cases you only have to file two petitions: the initial “Petition to Probate” the estate and a Petition for Final Distribution.
For more complex cases, you may have to file additional petitions.
You’ll also have to file a Notice of Probate in a newspaper. You are required to use only certain newspapers, and their charges will vary. Expect the notice to cost anywhere from $100 to $450.
Fees Paid to the Attorney
Our ordinary attorney’s fee — called a “statutory” fee — is based on the fair market value of the assets in the estate. The fee doesn’t take liabilities into account. The probate code establishes a sliding scale:
- 4% of the first $100,000
- 3% of the next $100,000
- 2% of the next $800,000
- 1% on the next $9,000,000
- 5% on the next $15,000,000
- A reasonable fee thereafter
- * See Cal Prob. Code § 10810 and § 10800 (fees) and § 10811 (extraordinary services)
- Personal representative fees
- Accounting fees
- Appraisal fees
- Bond fees
- Miscellaneous fees (property insurance, postage, moving fees, shipping fees)
Estate planning is more complex than just designating beneficiaries. It encompasses many different aspects including legal arrangements such as wills and trusts, the tax implications upon division of your estate, and the process in which estate division will be handled.
Small Estate Administration
Small Estate Administration
In some cases, probate can be avoided, or probate proceedings can be shortened based on the size of the estate. Small Estate laws were created to enable inheritors to obtain the property of the decedent without the time and fees associated with probate. Small estate proceedings can typically be used even if there is not a will in place.
The two main types of small estate procedures are Small Estate Affidavits and Summary Administration.
A Small Estate Affidavit is a legal form filed with the court asking for the release of the decedent’s assets for inheritors who are entitled to property either by will or local laws.
Simplified Probate is a simpler version of probate. If your estate qualifies under local laws, anyone entitled to inherit property from the decedent may settle the estate and take possession of the property.
Joint Tenancy & Community Property
Probate may also be avoided when two or more people share ownership in a property. When one person passes away, the other tenant or property owner(s) obtain the share of the decedent’s vested property by filing an Affidavit of Death of Joint Tenant.
Like joint tenancy, a married partner is entitled to the right of survivorship after their spouse passes away. However, married couples may have some additional rights that their unmarried counterparts do not. A step-up in basis for instance, is typically limited to joint tenants who are married, and allows for a readjustment of the value of an appreciated asset for tax benefits.
A will can typically be contested before the probate process begins according to California state law. When a will is challenged, the challenger must have both standing (an interest in the estate) and grounds (valid legal reasons) for contesting the will. Beneficiaries and heirs are the most likely parties to contest a will. Should the will be challenged for validity, a caveat can be filed before the probate process begins.
Consult With an Experienced California Probate Attorney Today
When you are ready to talk to an experienced attorney about your probate needs, we will be here for you. Reach out to us today online or by telephone at (909) 334-1425 for a FREE CONSULTATION.