Probate is the process by which a state court will oversee the collection, evaluation, and distribution of an estate after someone’s death. Generally speaking, any property someone owns, including real property, bank accounts, and tangible personal property, can become part of the estate. There are many assets that will not become part of the estate for the purposes of probate. For instance a surviving spouse will typically come into possession of the entire estate under joint tenancy provisions in many jurisdictions, so long as a will or trust does not provide otherwise. Some property, such as the proceeds of a life insurance policy, can pass to another person contractually outside of the this process. Assets held in a trust created during the lifetime of the deceased will also be dispersed with no court action in the United States. In these cases, estate taxes will still have to be paid.
There are many court fees related to these proceedings, and there are decreased court resources in place to assist those attempting to proceed through this process on their own. The Burton Law Firm remains committed to assisting our clients in navigating through this process as quickly and efficiently as possible. To a large extent, the costs for a full administration are determined by statute and based on the total assessed value of the estate. For this reason, many Californians choose to create trusts when planning for their estate, to avoid some of the costs inherent in these proceedings.
Before the property in an estate can be distributed, the personal representative must comply with a variety of requirements regarding the notification of beneficiaries, providing publication, and notifying creditors. We assist our clients with these steps, as well as with the coordination of the probate referee appraisal of estate assets, payment of taxes and creditor claims, division of assets, and ultimate distribution.
The anxiety that comes with the thought of going through this process can be exhausting. Let The Burton Law Firm guide you through this difficult time comfortably and easily. Please contact David Kelly, our head estate planning attorney, with any questions or concerns about your individual case.