Here is a secret: In California there are inexpensive probate options available, and one of the best options is filing probate without an attorney! This secret is not usually shared by attorneys as many of them will try to make potential clients fearful of filing probate without a lawyer. In fact, most estate executors can complete the probate process without legal representation if they have proper help. You may be surprised to learn that the California probate process requires little or no court appearances and matters set for hearing are, in most cases, pre-approved and routine. Here’s what you need to know so you can take advantage of this inexpensive probate option and save the estate thousands of dollars in the process!
Inexpensive Probate Options in California
Hiring an attorney to probate your loved one’s estate in California can be very expensive. For one thing, probate attorney fees are set by California law and are based on a percentage of the gross value of the decedent’s estate. Unfortunately, when calculating gross value, you don’t deduce the decedent’s debts (mortgage or business/personal loans). Here’s an example. If the estate consists of a house, car and furniture with a total sales value of $250,000, expect to pay the attorney at least $8,000 in attorney fees. Keep in mind, the attorney can also receive more fees for “extraordinary services” such as when real property sells during the probate process. Essentially, what you can pay an attorney sometimes has no direct relationship to the amount of work the attorney puts into probating the estate.
Some of the most popular inexpensive probate options in California include the following:
Hire an Inexpensive Probate Legal Document Assistant
Easily, the most stress-free inexpensive probate option in California is to hire an experienced probate legal document preparer. Keep in mind, however, that not all non-attorney probate services are the same. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you hire one with substantial experience and reputation. Although legal document preparers are trained on how to complete judicial and local court forms, not all legal document assistants are competent and well-versed with the probate forms and process. In fact, probate is such a specialized field that even attorneys unfamiliar with probate often hire our company to help them with the paperwork and process for their clients. In this regard,
Having been in business since 1980, A People’s Choice has prepared thousands of California probates and, as a result, our staff is very experienced with these matters. Our inexpensive probate services include document preparation, court filing assistant and complete case management.We aren’t like most non-attorney services out there. however, because our services extend beyond just form preparation. We will keep you on track with every step along the way and be there to help in any way we can. Our legal document preparation services cost substantially less than what an attorney would charge which means you will see substantial cost savings with our service in comparison to working with an attorney and paying statutory fees.
Inexpensive Simplified Probate Alternatives
There are also inexpensive probate options for smaller estates. These inexpensive options will only work, however, if the gross value of the estate is small, specifically under $166,250. California has several simplified probate procedures that allow the estate’s executor to settle a decedent’s estate without having to go through the more complex, lengthy probate process. Some of these inexpensive probate options are for estates without real property. There are other options for small estates with real property. For example, beneficiaries can submit a simple affidavit for personal property to handle the distribution of bank accounts, small stock accounts, and other small valued assets. One of the best inexpensive probate options for real property under $55,425 is using a small estate court affidavit. Lastly, for estates with real property under $166,250, there is a inexpensive probate procedure that requires one simple hearing to distribute the assets to the beneficiaries.
Spousal Property Petition
In addition to this simplified probate procedure, there are other inexpensive probate options that allow a spouse to settle the spousal interest of a deceased marriage partner through a spousal property petition. A spouse can typically complete a spousal proceeding within a few months. A probate referee is not required and there is no maximum or minimum value of the estate to use this process.
A Heggstad petition is commonly used when a decedent had a trust but, for whatever reason, failed to title high-value real estate or other assets in the name of the Trust. Filing a Heggstad petition allows a successor trustee to ask the court for permission to transfer the decedent’s assets into a trust after the decedent’s death. Transferring the decedent’s assets into his pre-existing trust will allow the successor trustee to distribute the asset as part of the trust and, as a result, avoid probate.
Contact A People’s Choice to learn more about inexpensive probate options open to you in California. A People’s Choice has been in business since 1980, and our staff are experienced, professional and well-versed with the California probate procedures. Call us today at 800-747-2780. Please also visit our exciting new website ProbatebyME.com which is dedicated to probate and estate administration matters in California.
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