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Probate and Trust Administration

California Probate Attorney

Probate in California involves a somewhat complex legal proceeding wherein the court appoints a representative to finalize the decedent’s estate. Upon court order, the representative makes the final distributions from the decedent’s estate to pay for the last debts of the decedent, including taxes, and makes distributions to the beneficiaries. The procedure can take up to a year or more to finalize, but can take less time if the estate is simple and there are no complications. The probate procedure can occur with or without a will.

The revocable living trust and other estate planning tools are popular because they help to avoid the expense and time involved with a probate. Assets that are transferred to the revocable living trust are not subject to probate.

Assets that are subject to probate, for instance, would be those that are in the decedent’s name alone. Assets that are held with another person as tenants in common, as opposed to joint tenancy, would be subject to probate. If the total amount of assets to be probated are under $100,000, a formal probate may not be necessary to transfer the assets to the intended beneficiaries, and a simplified procedure may be utilized.

Assets that are not subject to probate would be those held in joint tenancy with another person and assets held in a revocable living trust. Also, assets that are held in accounts which have “pay on death” provisions are not subject to probate. Also, life insurance and IRA accounts with a named “pay on death” beneficiary are not subject to probate.

The fees paid to the attorney and the executor or administrator are the same. If the executor or administrator are also beneficiaries, they may waive their fee. The amount of the fees are set by the California Probate Code according to a formula, based on the value of the assets. Additional or “extraordinary fees” may be allowed by the court if litigation is required, for instance.

Newsletters: Probate and Trusts

Avoiding Probate in California - When an individual dies owning property solely in his or her name, without a beneficiary designation, a formal procedure ("probate") is usually required to determine to whom the property should pass. If there is a valid will, the property will pass according to its terms. If there is no will, the property will pass to..... Click Here to read entire newsletter.

A Primer on Probate - In previous newsletters, we have indicated that through the use of revocable and irrevocable trusts, and other mechanisms, probates can be avoided. We have also explained how certain assets will not be subject to probate, if they are titled in a certain manner. For instance, using my usual example of the home, a husband and wife..... Click Here to read entire newsletter.

Funding Your Revocable Living Trust - We have discussed in a previous newsletter, the advantages of choosing a revocable living trust as the center piece of the estate plan, as opposed to relying merely upon a will and the probate process, or joint ownership of assets. Clients enjoy the cost savings involved with the administration of a revocable..... Click Here to read entire newsletter.

Can I Have a Trust for My Pet? Yes! Many of our clients are pet lovers who would like to leave something for their pets. The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association estimated in a 2000 survey that there are 68 million dogs and 73 million cats..... Click Here to read entire newsletter.

"My Son In Law is a Big Fat Dummy." Remedy: The Personal Asset Trust - In an interview with a new client some time ago, who was a widow, she told me that she had a son and a daughter, both grown, and both in their 30’s. When I asked my client if, when she died, she would like distributions to be made equally to her two children, she said yes..... Click Here to read entire newsletter.

Problems With Typical Revocable Living Trusts and Financial Durable powers of Attorney - And the New 70 Elder Law estate planning is different from regular estate planning. The typical revocable living trust and financial durable powers of attorney usually will not have the requisite language and powers required for asset protection and public benefits..... Click Here to read entire newsletter.

Long Term Care Provisions for the Revocable Living Trust and Financial Durable Powers of Attorney for Couples Facing an Diagnosis of Early Dementia - We often receive calls from one spouse, or from a child when one of their parents has had a stroke or has received a diagnosis of a dementia condition such as early Alzheimer’s. Both husband and..... Click Here to read entire newsletter.

The Revocable Living Trust - Preparing for Incapacity We receive a lot of questions about the Revocable Living Trust, (RLT) including, “I have a will, so why would I want a trust?” A will provides for the distribution of your assets to your children, etc., but it only goes into effect after you die. The will is then probated through a court proceeding in the Superior..... Click Here to read entire newsletter.


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