A lot of people are under the impression that inheritors receive their bequests in a timely and efficient manner when a will is used as an asset transfer device. In fact, this is not the case, because a will must be probated by the court before the inheritors can receive their bequests.
Probate exists in part to give creditors the opportunity to come forward seeking satisfaction before the inheritances are distributed. The court is also charged with the responsibility of affirming the validity of the will, so interested parties could present challenges during this process.
People often proactively implement probate avoidance strategies, because the process is time-consuming, and it can be expensive. Another negative is the fact that the records are available to the general public, so anyone that is interested can find out how the assets were distributed.
We will explain the value of a commonly utilized probate avoidance device in our next blog post and move on to another related document to close out this three-part series. For now, we will take a look at some of the exceptions to the rule when it comes to estates passing through the full process of probate.
Spousal Property Petitions
There are some “probate shortcuts” that exist in the state of California that can allow for estates to be administered outside of the full process. One of them is the utilization of a Spousal Property Petition. A surviving spouse can submit this petition to the probate court, and if it is accepted, the estate administration process can be streamlined.
Small Estate Affidavits
It is possible for an inheritor to prepare a statement that is signed under oath attesting to the fact that he or she is entitled to inherit a particular piece of property. For example, let’s say that it is a bank account. Under these circumstances, the affidavit would be presented to the bank along with the death certificate.
Under California laws, the bank would be required to release the funds to the rightful inheritor if there was $150,000 or less in the account. This method can also be used to transfer real estate if the value does not exceed $50,000.
Simplified Probate Procedure
The simplified probate procedure is another shortcut. This can also be available for small estates that are valued at no more than $150,000. The way that it works is the beneficiary would file a written request asking the court to allow for the utilization of the simplified procedure.
It should be noted that a number of different types of property are excluded when the value is being calculated, and this is part of the appeal.
Learn More About Estate Administration
If you would like to obtain more detailed information about estate administration, we have some fantastic resources that you can access right here on this website. Our attorneys have prepared a series of special reports that focus on several different aspects of the process. There is no charge for these reports, and you can click the following link to check out the titles: Free Estate Administration Reports.
Attend a Free Seminar
Written information is very useful, but there is really no substitute for a direct interaction with a licensed estate planning attorney. With this in mind, we are holding a series of seminars over the coming weeks, and you can learn a lot if you attend one of these sessions.
There is no charge, but we ask that you register in advance so that we can reserve your seat. You can visit our seminar schedule page to see the dates, and once you identify the one that works for you, click on it and follow the simple instructions to register.
Schedule a Consultation!
We are here to help if you would like to discuss your estate planning objectives with one of our attorneys. You can a schedule a consultation appointment right now if you give us a call at 310-337-7696. If you would prefer to reach out electronically, simply fill out our contact form and we will get back in touch with you promptly.