While not every estate in California will go through the complicated probate process, there are instances where it is required. Even when a there is a will.
Probate is expensive and it can be extremely time consuming, not to mention you will have less control over the distribution of your estate. Even before you begin estate planning you should understand what is ahead of your loved ones when your estate goes through probate.
The heirs or beneficiaries are minors
If any of the heirs or beneficiaries are minors, they must have a legal guardian before they can use the property or assets they will inherit. They can only represent themselves in probate proceedings once they are 18 years of age; therefore, the legal guardian will act on their behalf. If there is no named legal guardian or if there are disputes regarding who the guardian is, then the court will appoint a public guardian during probate.
If the estate includes debts
Any estate with liabilities in the form of debt, mortgage, taxes or even loans must go to probate. Unless the testator has specified how these will be paid for in their will, all the assets will be subject to deductions before they can be distributed.
The estate is worth a minimum of $166,250
All estates that surpass the threshold of $166,250 are subject to probate. These include all the assets remaining after subtracting the debt of the estate and funeral expenses.
The testator owned real property
Real estate is the physical land as well as the infrastructure and resources on the land. Real property encompasses the real estate but also includes the ownership of everything within the property and the legal rights to use it. If the testator does not have a joint tenant with survivorship rights, then the real property should be subject to probate proceedings.
It is important to identify all the testator’s properties and classify them to whether they are real property or personal property.
If the will has areas of contestation
A will has many areas of contestation. That is why having a legally valid will is so crucial to ensure a fair distribution of assets to all the loved ones left behind.
Thorough estate planning can prevent your estate from being distributed in court. You would not want to let your family suffer through the probate process after already suffering your loss.