What Is Probate?
What is Probate?
Nobody voluntarily chooses probate. People are too busy or preoccupied with health or other issues to plan. They pass away without a living trust and their heirs----usually their children---- find that they can?t sell Mom or Dad?s house without a court order or can?t transfer Mom or Dad?s bank account without court approval. Even with a will, they may be forced to file a probate proceeding.
Alternatives to Probate
Because probate is expensive and time consuming, a responsible attorney first tries to determine if there is an alternative to probate. In California, the most common alternatives to probate are a Spousal Property Petition (if there is a surviving spouse) or a small estate transfer (if the value of the estate is less than $100,000). If these and other alternatives to probate are unavailable, then the only recourse for the decedent?s heirs is to file a probate proceeding.
Cost of Probate
Attorney?s fees and costs are set by law in California and are based upon the value of the estate. Here is the statutory fee schedule in California:
4% of the first $100,000
3% of the next $100,000
2% of the next $800,000
1% of the next $9,000,000
What Is Probate?
Probate is the judge-supervised process of paying a decedent?s legitimate bills, inventorying and appraising a decedent?s assets, and distributing the assets to the decedent?s heirs or beneficiaries.
Length of Probate
Most probates take between 6 months and one year. We take pride in the fact that most of our probates are handled without a hearing: in the S.F. Bay Area, this is done through a system of ?pre-granting,? i.e. the judge is willing to sign the proposed order without an attorney making a court appearance.
About the Author: David R. Baker graduated from Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco in 1979 and passed the California State Bar Exam the same year. He has handled hundreds of hearings and trials in every county in the San Francisco Bay Area, and throughout his career he has handled probate and decedents estates. The present focus of his practice is Probate, Decedents Estates, and Living Trusts. He can only advise on matters relating to California law and California legal proceedings. His website is: http://www.california-probate-attorney.com/