What is Probate?
As you grieve the loss of a loved one it is important that you have someone who can take the burden of the probate process off of you. We can do that for you. When someone dies without a will the court will step in to determine what will happen to their assets and how they will be distributed. Any estate with a value of $150k or more will have to go through the probate process. This is a long process that can be very complex and very costly for the estate to settle. Below is some information from the Orange County Superior Courts regarding the probate process, which we can assist you in navigating.
Is Probate Necessary?
If the person who died did not have any property to transfer, probate is usually not necessary. The deceased person’s survivors may decide to open a probate if there are debts owed or if there is a need to set a deadline for creditors to file claims. When there is property to transfer, the probate process also provides for the distribution of the estate’s property to the decedent’s heirs.
What if There is No Will?
If a person dies without a Will (known as dying “intestate”), the probate court appoints a personal representative (known as an “administrator”). The major difference between dying testate and dying intestate is that an intestate estate is distributed according to state law (known as “intestate succession”). A testate estate is distributed according to the instructions left by the decedent in his or her Will.
How Much Does Probate Cost?
The cost of probate is set by state law. When all the costs are added up – these may include appraisal costs, executor’s fees, court filing fees and certified copies, costs for a type of insurance policy known as a “surety bond,” plus legal and accounting fees–probate can cost from 4% to 7% of the total estate value, sometimes more. If someone contests the Will, there could be thousands of dollars of litigation costs.
Do I Have to Use a Lawyer for the Probate Process?
No. But, it may be a good idea if the estate is complex. A lawyer can help you meet all deadlines and avoid mistakes and delays. A lawyer can sometimes help avoid disagreements among family members over minor or major issues. But the lawyer represents the interests of the personal representative, not the beneficiaries.
For more information, please refer to the resources provided by the Orange County Superior Court at http://www.occourts.org/self-help/probate/wills-trusts/