Friday, January 29, 2016

What is Probate?

Probate in California is a court-supervised process that is used to oversee a person's legal and financial affairs after death, usually overseen by probate lawyers in California. Probate consists of gathering a deceased person's assets, proving the validity of the will, appraising the estate property, paying estate taxes and then distributing the property as directed by will or state law if there is no will.

Essentially this is the process of determining the rights and obligations of a person’s legal and financial matters after their death. Probate is the way to transfer assets, resolve debts and clear title so the decedent’s assets can go to the rightful heirs. Often, it is a complicated and time-consuming process.

Why You Need a Trust to Help Avoid Probate

A man living in Pasadena has just retired. He is a widow and has two children. After working hard for many, many years he has considerable assets and property. Just as he is about to start the next phase of his life, he passes away unexpectedly. Unfortunately, he died without a living trust. His children who have always gotten along well are now finding themselves going through the grief of losing their father and fighting over his assets. Further frustrations arise when they find out just how long probate will take and how expensive. 

Probate Court in California

This is exactly the type of situation probate courts see every day, a situation that could have been helped if the decedent only had a trust. In California, if someone dies with no estate plan at all or only a will and real estate worth more than $50,000, that person’s estate must be probated.  Now, instead of an easy transition, the California laws of the state will determine the outcome of how the assets will be distributed. This is a court procedure that includes transferring a deceased person's assets to the beneficiaries listed in their will, proving the validity of the will; inventorying and appraising the estate property; paying any debts or taxes (including estate taxes); distributing the property as directed by their will or state law if there is no will.

If you do not have a trust in place, it is very important that you seek a knowledgeable Estate Planning Attorney to help you obtain one.

The First Step Towards a Comprehensive Estate Plan

There are many benefits to having a trust. For starters, as illustrated above, having a valid trust in place can take the burden away from your loved ones. They can rest easy knowing that your wishes will be carried out without the State of California interfering.  All of us want to keep our families out of Court and out of Conflict, but too many of us fail to put a plan in place that that will do this.

Talk to a skilled Estate Planning Attorney in Los Angeles County about your specific needs and get peace of mind. The process of probate administration is made substantially easier, and safer, when a California probate lawyer is made part of the process helping to guide your estate through the system. As an experienced probate attorney Chris Scarcella regularly assists clients with California probate administration and make it as easy as possible to navigate the probate process.

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