Probate is a process where the court oversees the administration of a deceased person’s estate or, in other words, distribution of assets of a person after his or her death.
There are two types of probate in California:
- Intestate: Where the decedent died without a will.
- Testate: Where the decedent died with a will.
With either an intestate or testate probate, the estate must pass through probate court. In California, a will must pass through probate court since a will may be a simple handwritten document, and thus, must be proved to be authentic.
In California, attorney’s fees are based on the gross value of the probate estate. These fees are called statutory fees.
In this schedule, $4,000.00 is paid for the first $100,000.00 of assets, $3,000.00 for the next $100,000.00 of assets, $2,000.00 per $100,000.00 for the next $800,000.00 of assets, and then $1,000.00 per $100,000 for the next $9,000,000.00 of assets.
For example, an estate worth $500,000.00 would have statutory attorney’s fees of $13,000.00 ($4,000.00 + $3,000.00 + $2,000.00 + $2,000.00 + $2,000.00). As you can see, probate fees are costly, which is why a living trust is recommended to most clients.
The probate process involves multiple court filings and lots of paperwork with which our offices can assist you. Unfortunately, a typical probate process takes 12 to 16 months, since probate court dates are difficult to obtain in California. However, our office does its very best to help you navigate the world of probate as efficiently as possible.
Alternatively, a “small estate” probate may be possible if the probate estate, which includes real property, is $150,000.00 or less. A small estate probate is an expedited process that has two advantages:
- Time: A small estate probate typically takes 2-6 months to complete.
- Cost: A small estate probate does not involve statutory attorney’s fees as above outlined.
Depending on your given legal situation, other simplified probate petitions may be possible. Our office always does its best to advise you how to solve your probate situation as quickly and as inexpensively as possible.
For additional information regarding the probate process, please contact our office at (626) 858-9378.