Probate

Probate is the process used to reconcile a person's estate upon their death. It is necessary for recording the death and making certain financial obligations are satisfied according to state law. All assets that are not protected by a trust or transferred using assignment of beneficiaries are frozen until the estate is settled.

Probate typically takes several months to complete. There are many steps to the process which involve confirming an estate agent; notifying creditors and government entities; filing legal and financial documents; and managing distribution of estate assets to designated heirs and beneficiaries.

California probate code is one of the most stringent in the country. Assets can be suspended for months as estates pass through the court. Considering California is one of the more heavily populated states it only stands to reason probate caseload is often at maximum capacity.

It's a good idea to hire an estate attorney in California to setup estate planning or help reconcile decedent estates. Most people find the probate process to be overwhelming due to the level of paperwork and documentation involved.

Settling a probated estate begins by recording the Will and death certificate with the court. Personal representatives are designated in Wills or appointed by the court. Dying without a Will places extra burdens on family members during a difficult time.

Settling estates without a Will is called intestate, while settling those with one is called testate. The process for reconciling intestate estates varies depending on if decedents are single or married, and if they have children, grandchildren, and other direct lineage relatives.

Estate planning is easier than most people realize. Working with experts is a swift way to find out which methods offer the highest level of protection while lessening estate and inheritance tax liabilities.

Getting started involves finding an estate planning service or probate lawyer. Advisers review the types of assets owned to determine which methods are needed. Some people can get by with a simple Will. Others need to set up joint tenancy titles or assignment of beneficiaries.

People with larger estates often prefer to setup revocable trusts. However, there are several other types of trusts that can be used for specific reasons.

Family trusts are a good option for married couples because their assets can be managed jointly and separately. Child trust funds are an excellent option for passing along inheritance money and real property to minor age children.

The type of trust used depends on multiple factors and is best determined by an estate attorney. This is particularly true when the value of assets exceed $2 million. Trusts are instrumental in reducing estate tax and ensuring heirs receive all property gifted to them via Wills.

Small estates can generally make use of estate planning strategies that offer the same benefit as trusts. In California, estates valued below $60,000 do not have to pass through probate as long as a will and testament is provided.

Small estates still need to be reconciled, but can quickly close after waiting through the 45 day confirmation period. This is not the case with intestate estates, so all the more reason to prepare a last Will.

Regardless of how little or much property is owned it's important to write a Will and lessen burdens for relatives. This simple document lets people provide directives regarding how they want their belongings distributed, along with information about estate planning techniques they have setup.

The easiest solution for making certain estate assets are protected and will be passed along to heirs is to establish estate planning methods. Working with an estate planning law firm, such as Craton and Switzer, help individuals learn ways to safeguard their property and minimize death tax liabilities.

If you need assistance setting up writing a Will or setting up trusts we invite you to call us and arrange a consultation. If you'd like to know more about California probate or how probate works in other states stop by our estate planning blog.

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Published on April 04, 2012

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