A lot of people think that the estate administration procedure is very simple and straightforward when a will is used, and they assume that trust administration is much more complicated.
In reality, this is a misconception. The executor acts as the estate administrator when a will is utilized, and the executor cannot act independently after the passing of the testator.
Under the laws of the state of California, the will would be admitted to probate, and the court would provide supervision while the estate is being administered. This process serves a purpose in a broad sense, but it creates some hassles for the rightful heirs to an estate.
Let’s look at five things that you should know about probate before you decide to use a will as the focal point of your estate plan.
There Are Probate Shortcuts in California
Before we look at some of the things you should understand about the full probate process, we should point out the fact that there are some probate shortcuts.
Property that is being inherited by a spouse or registered domestic partner can potentially be transferred through a Spousal Property Petition.
An out-of-court small estate affidavit can be used for estates that are valued at $166,250 or less, and the procedure is available for estates that contain real estate with a value that does not exceed $55,425.
There is also a simplified probate procedure for smaller estates that fall under the $166,250 limit.
Probate Isn’t Free
Now we can move on to the important facts about the full probate process. There are a number of different expenses that accumulate during probate, and the expenditures will shave down the value of the estate.
Money that is spent during probate is essentially coming out of the pockets of the heirs, so this is a significant drawback.
Probate Is Time Consuming
It will usually take between a year and 18 months for probate to run its course. No inheritances are distributed until the estate has been probated and closed by the court.
Privacy Is Lost During Probate
Most people value their privacy when it comes to their financial decision-making, and this would naturally extend to your inheritance planning choices. Privacy is valuable in a general sense, and in an estate administration context, the information can cause hard feelings.
Probate records are available to the general public, so privacy is lost when a will is utilized as an asset transfer vehicle.
Probate Can Be Avoided
If these probate facts are not very encouraging, there is some good news to pass along. Probate can be easily avoided if you use a revocable living trust as the centerpiece of your estate plan.
You do not have to be concerned about losing control of the assets that you signed over to the trust, because you would act as the trustee. In the trust agreement, you would name a successor trustee to act as the administrator after your passing.
When the time comes, the trustee would distribute assets to the heirs in accordance with your wishes, and the probate process would not be a factor. The avoidance of probate is one benefit, but there are others.
We Are Here to Help!
There are many tools in the estate planning toolkit, and the best way to proceed will depend on the circumstances. We can gain an understanding of your situation, explain your options, and help you create a custom crafted plan that ideally suits your needs.
If you are ready to get started, you can give us a call at 310-337-7696, and you can fill out our contact form if you would prefer to send us a message.