When someone passes away having left behind no will or estate plan (called dying intestate), the estate must go through a process called probate. Probating a will is essentially the authorization and processing of a will, but it’s more complicated than that. Here are four potential issues regarding the probate process:
- Time: Probate in the state of California can take up to a full year or longer. That’s a long time for an estate to remain in limbo.
- Cost: Probate can be very expensive. Fees are strictly set by code, based on the actual value of assets, regardless of the amount of equity in the assets. For instance, a $400,000 home with a mortgage of $250,000 might only have $150,000 in equity, but is assessed at the full value of $400,000. Additionally, all estate assessments are made on the estate’s gross (pre-tax) value, not net value. This can significantly increase the cost of probate.
- Privacy: Probate is open to the public. It’s uncomfortable being under public scrutiny during such a time and with such sensitive information.
- Contested Wills: Anyone with legal standing can contest the will. It can be incredibly frustrating to have the processing of a will held up by seemingly frivolous contestations by those with little claim to the estate.
- Having to Apply for Funds: Surviving spouses can sometimes be forced to apply to the probate court for funds to live on, drawn from assets that actually belong to them.
Cross Law can minimize your family’s exposure to this time-consuming, frustrating and humiliating process. We act as probate attorneys throughout the Bay Area, helping to facilitate a speedy conclusion to probate, while also ensuring your assets go where you want. With proper estate planning, we might even be able to help you avoid probate altogether.
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