Probate Administration & Proceedings

The death of a loved one is a sad and difficult time. In addition, those left behind must often figure out how to transfer or inherit property from the person who has died (the "decedent").

Probate is the court which oversees the process of determining and gathering the decedent's assets; paying taxes, debts, and expenses; and disbursing the remainder to heirs or beneficiaries of the decedent.  Probate handles such things as transferring property of the decedent to the heirs or beneficiaries, determining if a will is legitimate, and taking care of the financial obligations of the decedent.

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California probate law requires probate estates with over $150,000 of gross assets (the amount of the entire estate, not including any debts owed by the estate) not titled in a trust to go through the formal probate process. Probate typically can take anywhere from several months to two years, and sometimes longer. Therefore, it is often important to have an attorney assisting to help facilitate and help expedite the process where possible. 

When a probate estate is under $150,000, there are more streamlined mechanisms available which allow the estate to be distributed without probate administration and at a much faster pace. There are certain assets which are excluded from being added into the probate estate's gross value, so it is important to speak with an attorney to see what procedure will be most appropriate for distributing the estate of a decedent. 

Typically, the best way to avoid probate for your own estate is to create a living trust. Unlike a will, which simply distributes assets upon death, a living trust holds assets and property "in trust." In probate, the fees are taken from the gross estate (the amount of the entire estate, not including any debts owed by the estate). In California, these fees are statutory. California’s current fee schedule is based on the gross value of the estate at 4% of the first $100,000, 3% of the second $100,000, 2% of the next $800,000, and 1% over $1 million up to $9 million. The initial probate court filing fee in San Diego County is $435, and the final court probate filing fee is $435.

However, if you find yourself stuck in probate proceedings to settle the estate of a loved one, it is important to speak with an attorney regarding the best way to proceed. Going though the legal system without a legal background is often a tedious and stressful process.

Fyfe Law Firm is familiar with the probate system, as well as probate litigation, and are prepared to assist you. Feel free to set up a free 30 minute consultation with us. Call us at (858) 412-7714.

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