Wills, trusts and probate
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What is Probate?
When a person passes away, he or she may have owned many different kinds of property. This could include bank accounts, a home, a business, stocks and bonds, and personal effects. Probate is the court supervised process in which a deceased person's property is ultimately distributed to his or her beneficiaries or heirs at law. This process requires multiple court filings, notices to be published, hearings, and that a person be appointed by the court to serve as the Personal Representative. The Personal Representative, also called an Executor or Administrator, works with the attorney to complete all the paperwork required by the court. During this time, all outstanding debts owed by the deceased person will be paid, such as bills and funeral expenses.
When everything is finished, and the court has granted approval, the Personal Representative distributes the deceased person's property as set forth in the order.
Is Probate Required?
California law requires Probate for all persons who pass away owning over $150,000.00 in property at the time of his or her date of death, unless their property is owned in a joint tenancy, revocable trust or other exception to the general rule.
Why Use Probate?
Other than being required by law, Probate may still be a good idea for persons who are not required by law to use the Probate system. During Probate, creditors are given a four month window to present claims against the deceased person. All claims not filed can never be asserted at a later date. If the deceased owned his or her own business, was a licensed professional, or had many outstanding debts, Probate may be beneficial.
What Does it Cost?
The cost of Probate is set by law, and cannot be changed. There are court costs, including filing, publication and appraisal fees. The Personal Representative, as well as his or her attorney, are paid a statutory fee, as set by law. The amount of money that must be paid is based on the value of the estate that the deceased person owns.
What Should I Do?
The decision whether to use Probate can be complicated. The above provides only a general overview of the Probate system, and should not be considered as legal advice. To discuss whether Probate is required or recommended for your situation, please contact The Law Offices of Mark A. Homen.
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