by Megan A. Moghtaderi, Esq.

Sock! Pow! Zok! Cue music. Going through probate is much like getting sucker punched by Batman. Probate is a court procedure wherein the assets and liabilities of a decedent, the person who has passed away, are established. While the results of the probate of a decedent’s estate differs depending on whether or not they had a valid Will, a probate is usually still required.

Sock! The first hit is the amount of time that probate takes. When a decedent passes away, there is a sudden influx of unexpected and/or last-minute bills. Usually the heirs of the decedent want to get their distribution and within a short period of time. Unfortunately, with probate there is a delay, sometimes quite lengthy, in receiving the assets. This impedes the timing for heirs to receive what the decedent left them. While the probate period is lengthy for those who have a valid executed Will, it can be even more prolonged if no Will exists. During this period, the beneficiaries of the estate usually won’t have access to the accounts and yet bills will still come due.

Pow! While the time it takes to go through probate is frustrating, the expense of going through probate is possibly the worst part of this process. The reason why the expenses are so high is because of the California statutory fees. These fees are based on the assets the decedent possessed at the time of their passing and does not take into consider the liabilities that they had as well. For instance, if the decedent owned a home but has a mortgage on the residence, the cost of probate will be determined based on the market value of the residence and will not deduct the amount of the loan on the home to determine the cost for probate. For a much smaller cost of estate planning, you can save your heirs this additional unnecessary expense.

Zok! A swift kick to the legs is the effect when you realize that probate proceedings are public. This means that the decedent’s privacy is removed when there is a court proceeding. These proceedings and the associated filed documents are available to be viewed by any member of the public. Affairs, family secrets, and illegitimate children are just some of the little bits of family dirty laundry that are aired in court. Further, court approval is often required to do the simplest of things.

Cue music. Probate is not pleasant. However, our office is here to help navigate the process as efficiently as possible. Proactively, you can schedule a complimentary consultation with our office to ensure that your estate plan is in place to protect from your loved ones having to experience this process.

You can find out what the potential probate costs would be in your particular circumstance using our probate calculator.

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