If you have no will (or a will but no trust) at the time of your passing, your assets may be subject to probate. Probate is public, lengthy, and costly. Our goal is to help you navigate this process.
What is probate?
Probate is a formal court process where the court determines if your will is valid and then grants the power to administer your estate to an individual you have nominated. If you have no will, the court will grant powers to an individual to administer your estate in accordance with statutes. The court empowers your personal representative to gather your assets, pay all your creditors, and transfer the balance to your heirs in accordance with these statutes or your will.
The California Probate Code requires that an estate greater than $166,250 must be probated.
Probate does not automatically occur when you pass. An interested party, usually a relative or friend, must petition the probate court for proceeds to begin. Thus, without the probate granting powers to your personal representative, no one can issue checks from your accounts to pay your debts.
How much does probate cost?
In California, the costs of probate are set by statute. The minimum fees for the personal representative and the attorney for the personal representative:
|Gross Estate Value||
Total Statutory Fees
(Personal Representative & Attorney’s Fees)
The estate is calculated on its gross value, and not its net value. So, if your estate consists of a home with a fair market value of $1,000,000 with a $500,000 mortgage, statutory fees will be based on $1,000,000 gross value and not your $500,000 of equity.
The court will also grant additional fees to both your personal representative and their counsel when there is the sale of real property and in other circumstances as set forth in the rules of court and California Probate Code.
How long does probate take?
Probate usually takes 1–2 years in California.