A People’s Choice can provide you with information to help you decide if probate will be necessary. If you can settle the decedent’s estate with a non-court affidavit, you will save time and money. However, the process can be complicated. Read on to find out what you need to know.
When Is Probate Required?
Not all estates must go through probate in California. A small estate process can settle smaller valued estates. These alternative procedures are much faster and cheaper than going through a full court probate proceeding. First, identify assets that are part of the estate. Next, calculate the total gross value of the estate. Remember, you do not deduct loan or mortgages from this gross value. The gross value will indicate whether your estate requires probate or if you can use a small estate procedure.
What Assets Are Part of the Estate?
Assets titled only in the decedent’s name usually make up part of the estate. This includes:
- bank accounts
- real property
- stocks, bonds, and other investments
- personal property
- real property held as a tenant-in-common
- life insurance policies, pension accounts, and retirement plans with no named or deceased beneficiaries
California excludes certain assets from the estate’s value, including:
- accounts with payable-on-death beneficiaries
- properties with transfer-on-death deeds
- bank accounts with co-owners
- assets with co-owners
- assets held in a revocable living trust
- property held as a joint tenancy with right-of-survivorship
- life insurance policies, pension accounts, and retirement plans with living named beneficiaries
If you are unsure how to categorize assets, you jeopardize your ability to settle via affidavit. Make sure you have good, professional advice during this process.
Determining the Value of the Estate
To answer the question of whether your estate requires probate, you must understand 1) which assets are part of the estate and 2) assess their total gross value. Remember, if a court process is required, you will need to arrange for a probate referee to appraise the value of the estate. If the estate’s value exceeds $150,000, then California requires probate. Estates valued less than $150,000 may settle by a small estate process or non-court affidavit.
Choosing Court Probate Over Small Estate Procedures
Sometimes heirs wish to settle the estate through probate even if a small estate process is an option. They may do this to avoid responsibility for substantial debts or resolve disputes between the heirs. Furthermore, some banks will not transfer an account without probate.
California requires probate for large estates. Unfortunately, probate is lengthy and expensive and the probate process can be lengthy. Sometimes, however, it is the right process. Other times, an alternative small estate process may be more straightforward and less costly for all parties. Contact A People’s Choice for more information about how to probate your loved one’s estate in California. Whether your estate requires probate or you can use an alternative small estate process, A People’s Choice is a great option to get you through the legal process. Call us today at 800-747-2780.
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