What is “Probate” and why does everyone want to avoid it?

Los Angeles Probate Attorney

California Probate courts have a bad reputation… and unfortunately I am not here to dispel those rumors. There are fantastic judges and staff working in our probate courts, but the reality is, they are overloaded with cases. In response to the overwhelming case load, court fees and waiting periods have increased– shifting the burden to those at the mercy of the probate court.

So what does “Probate” mean? California Probate courts handle guardianships, conservatorships and the administration of estates (distributing property to the family of someone who has passed away). Contrary to what many people think, even if you have a will, your property will pass through the probate court at your death. The only way to avoid probate in California is with a living trust.

Without that living trust, your property and bank accounts, personal property and even your retirement accounts will be appraised and distributed by a probate judge according to the rules of distribution of the probate code. That means that your estate may not be distributed to the people you wanted it to; or in the method you would have wanted it to. In addition, if your family hires a probate attorney, the attorney’s fees will be determined based on a percentage of your overall estate. This can often result in a windfall to a probate attorney– at a huge detriment to the family.

Whether you are looking to avoid probate or dealing with the death of a loved one whose estate needs to be probated, hiring an experienced trusts and estates attorney will relieve your stress and insure your goals are met.

Happy planning!

B.B. 

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