Estate of Affairs

Estate planning blog

What is Probate?

Probate in California is a long, expensive, and public courtroom process, with results that most people don’t want. Don’t let this happen to you–avoid it by drafting an estate plan instead of a will.

If your property has to go through probate, it can be a long and drawn-out process. Especially if you attempt to do it yourself and make a mistake. And if you choose to hire an attorney to help you, the cost skyrockets because of the fixed fee schedule for probates. And because the courts are involved, your family affairs will be public for the whole world to see. Worse, there’s no choice in where your property goes because the law has predetermined the default plan for all estates.

Why Should I Avoid It?

  • Time. Probate could be delayed for years after the date of death, causing stress and loss of property and money.
    An heir’s probate inheritance must wait, sometimes years, until the court concludes the case.
    And if the probate is contested, the case could go to trial, causing long delays.
    If the deceased owned a valuable business that an heir is set to inherit, that business may end up dead in the water waiting for the court to act, causing disastrous results for the business, its employees, and the family.
    Meanwhile, the mortgage and tax bills are still coming in and interest payments from creditors pile up. Sometimes family members feel compelled to use their own money to avoid foreclosure on a house before the court even issues an order to sell the property.
  • Cost. It is extremely expensive. A three-million-dollar valued estate may pay anywhere from 60 to 70 thousand dollars in court costs, and representative and attorney fees in California before ever receiving an inheritance.
    Some families in California are tempted to draft an estate plan without a lawyer, but a single mistake is costlier. And if your estate plan’s legal validity is questioned, it could lead to a lengthy litigation process.
  • Public. Probate is a public courtroom process. There may be things in your family’s finances that you don’t want to be aired in open court. Most families don’t want to advertise how much money and which assets they hold, all of which are reported to the court. Commonly, real estate professionals use court filings to call the family asking if/when they want to sell the family home. It takes three to five months to get a hearing to start the probate process, and before that, you and your legal team have to follow a publishing schedule
  • Default Beneficiaries. By default, California probate law does not discriminate between beneficiaries regardless of age, need, or wealth. An eighteen-year-old child with hundreds of thousands of dollars could be taken advantage of and quickly lose everything. A developmentally disabled child’s inheritance could be wasted on medical care that would have been provided free of charge by the state. A successful sibling and a poor sibling would evenly split an inheritance, despite the fairness of the result. And although a will, which is like a letter to the court, can discriminate between beneficiaries, it does not avoid the time, publicity and expense of probate.

What is the Alternative?

  • Do you want to avoid the potentially disastrous consequences of probate? Save time, money, stress, and uncertainty with a trust drafted by our team, instead. With our trusts, your family could receive the bulk of their gifts within months without the hassle of figuring out who should take charge, pay the bills, and manage your estate. For example, a trust could eliminate up to 85% of the cost of a $70,000 probate case. For a case of that cost, that’s a potential savings of about $60,000.

Who wouldn’t want all that extra money?

Instead of waiting years for their default inheritance, your family could begin receiving payments from your estate right away. Often, we can help your family receive the majority of your inheritance in a fraction of the time of probate.

Your family can’t wait until it’s too late – avoid probate and get an estate plan with us today.


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