What is The Probate Process in California?

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What is The Probate Process in California?

When you begin estate planning, you will inevitably come across the term “probate.”  Probate is the court supervised legal process of transferring the wealth of the property from someone who has died to the person or persons who are entitled to their assets. Probate is often misunderstood and confusing, and can cause long delays in distributing the assets of you or your loved one, as well as carry a hefty price-tag due to all the expenses associated with it. Discover exactly what probate is, including the Probate process in California, and how it can be avoided.


probate process in California

What is probate?

As defined above, Probate is the legal process of transferring assets of a decedent to his or her heirs.

Unfortunately, the probate process can be expensive in terms of both time and money.  On average, a probated estate will take between one to two years from inception to the final distribution of assets, and can certainly take longer if the estate is large or contested.  Additionally, probate fees are statutory, which means they are set by California law, and can range from $14,000 for a modest estate, to well over $50,000 for larger estates. Keep in mind, these numbers do not include any additional expenses that may be required by the Court to probate the estate.


When is an estate subject to probate?

In California, a full probate action is not required for estates with a date-of-death, fair market value of $150,000 or less, so long as any real property included is not valued at $50,000 or less.  Because of this low threshold, most estates in California are subject to probate.


How can probate be avoided?

The good news is probate is easily avoidable. A proper estate plan, which includes a Revocable Living Trust. will bypass the probate process, while also providing a means to quickly and inexpensively distribute your estate to your named beneficiaries. It is worth noting that in California, simply having a testamentary Will in place will not accomplish this as Wills are subject to probate in California.  


In an upcoming blog post, we will discuss Revocable Living Trusts in more detail, including why they are the preferred estate planning vehicle used to avoid a lengthy and expensive probate.


Secure a financially sound future for you and your loved ones by partnering with us. At our firm you can be sure that your satisfaction and unique needs will always be our first priority. We will be your trusted advisor at every step of the process. Our services are available at competitive prices and do not involve any hidden costs. We are here to guide you through the difficult decisions that will protect your family after your passing. Contact us today and secure your family’s future!