Probate is the legal process that will be required after you pass away to ensure that your estate assets are properly identified, valued, and eventually transferred to the intended beneficiaries and/or heirs of your estate. To avoid wasting time and money, you want the probate of your estate to move along quickly and efficiently. To help you achieve that goal, the Los Angeles attorneys at Schomer Law Group, APC discuss five reasons why probate might take longer than it should in California.
5 Things That Can Hold Up Probate in California
When probate takes longer than it should, it typically means that your loved ones must wait longer to receive assets from your estate. It can also mean that there are more expenses related to probating your estate which diminishes the value of the assets ultimately passed down to loved ones. To prevent delays during the probate of your estate in California, avoid the following five things that often cause delays during the probate of an estate:
- Leaving behind an intestate estate. If a decedent did not leave behind a valid Will, the estate being probated is referred to as an “intestate” estate. Leaving an intestate estate can delay probate for several reasons. Instead of knowing who will oversee probate, the court must appoint someone who may, or may not, even know the decedent. The court must identify, locate, and notify all legal heirs of your estate, which can take some time. Most importantly, all estate assets may need to be sold to provide the liquid assets needed to divide the estate according to the California intestate succession laws.
- Choosing the wrong Executor. The person you appoint to be the Executor of your estate is responsible for overseeing the probate of your estate. The Executor has numerous duties and responsibilities during probate. The right Executor can facilitate a quick and efficient probate process while the wrong Executor can cause probate to take longer and cost more money than it should.
- Leaving insufficient liquid assets. During probate, creditors of the estate are notified and given the opportunity to file claims against the estate. Approved claims must then be paid along with taxes due, and expenses associated with the probate of the estate. If the estate lacks sufficient liquid assets to pay creditors, expenses, and taxes, the Executor will be forced to sell estate assets to raise the necessary funds.
- Leaving complex assets. Generally, the more valuable the estate is and the more complex the assets are, the longer it takes to probate the estate. To help prevent a delay during the probate of your estate, try to transfer complex assets, such as a business, real estate, or valuable collectibles during your lifetime or through the use of a trust. Unlike assets passed down in your Will, trust assets bypass probate altogether.
- Failing to address likely challenges to your Will. If you suspect that someone will initiate a Will contest, take steps to address that now. Having a complete physical conducted just prior to executing your Will can help contradict claims that you lacked the necessary testamentary capacity to make a Will. You might also discuss adding a “no contest” clause to your Will to discourage beneficiaries from contesting your Will. Finally, consider adding a Letter of Instruction to your estate plan. Although not a legally binding document, a Letter of Instruction can be used to explain decisions you made in your Will.
Do You Have Questions about Probate in California?
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions about probate in California, contact the experienced Los Angeles probate attorneys at Schomer Law Group APCby calling (310) 337-7696 to schedule an appointment.