California Probate Lawyer Kevin Taheny
What is Probate? Probate is a court-supervised process of transferring a decedent’s property to beneficiaries. Typically, a prospective personal representative petitions the court for authority to administer your estate, the probate court determines validity of any will, appoints the personal representative (called an “executor” if there’s a will or “administrator” if there is no will) to manage the estate subject to the supervision of the court and sets the amount of bond unless waived by the will. During probate, the personal representative must inventory the assets, pay debts, taxes and expenses of administration of the estate. After that portion of the probate process is completed, the personal representative must make a report to the court of these activities and petition the court again for authority to distribute the estate to the beneficiaries.
Should you consider avoiding Probate? Avoiding probate, like avoiding taxes, is usually always preferable. Most attorneys and financial professionals would advise avoiding probate and you should consider it for the following reasons. Probate is a public procedure where your debts, assets and your will become part of a public record. The expenses of probate, including the statutory commissions schedule, may more than exceed the cost of an estate managed and distributed through a living trust. Also, trust distributions usually can be made to beneficiaries quicker although there are provisions for preliminary distributions to beneficiaries before a probate estate has been finally distributed.
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