California Probate Court Process – The 3 Evils of Probate

From the desk of San Diego Probate Lawyer, Kristina R. Hess:

Greetings Californians!  Check out my new video on the California Probate Court Process — and the unfortunate 3 evils that go along with the process.

I am very sorry if you have had a loved one pass away with no estate plan or only a will.  The sad truth is that in California, if your loved one owned real property or had cumulative assets over $150,000 then, a probate court judge will need to settle the estate.

There are 3 evils of California Probate. We wish we could do something to change this but unfortunately, there is not.  The process is designed to make sure that creditors are paid by the estate and also to make sure that the appropriate people inherit the assets.

Here’s the short list:

  1. Probate is Slow — 1-2 years if there are no challenges or contests by heirs.  Average Probate in California before the budget crisis was 16 months … it would be nice to speed it up … but we cannot.
  2. Probate is Public — everything that is filed in the California probate court proceeding is a matter of public record.  Yikes!  What this means is that the amount of $ to be inherited and who is inheriting this money is open to predators!  Sadly, there are people who follow this information.  Plus, any minors would receive their inheritance outright at age 18 without some estate planning in place.  We all know 18 year olds who are not ready for $ and do not make good life choices at that age.
  3. Probate is Expensive! — if the other two evils didn’t get you, the expense of probate will. In California the average probate court process costs 5% of the gross value of the estate.  The value of the estate is based upon gross fair market value (as appraised) of the assets.  So, a $500,000 house going through probate could cost $25,000.  Obviously, if you had litigation around the estate and people challenging the estate or the executor, then, this cost will go up exponentially…

Enough bad news!

The good news, if you have a funded living trust, your loved ones can avoid probate altogether!  Keep everything private and avoid the courts and the extra expense of the California probate court process.

If it is too late for that and your loved one passed away without a living trust, no trust, or only a will (a will guarantees probate unless there are few assets)… then here at KR Hess Law, San Diego Probate Lawyer, we will work with you to minimize the negative affects of the process, to the extent possible.

Our Team at KR Hess (San Diego Probate Attorney) has handled 100s of probates in California, so you can rest easy, recover from you loss, and allow us to handle all of the court proceedings, hearings, and manage the process for you from beginning to end.

We will also communicate with your family and facilitate harmony if possible.

Probate is not fun, but we will get it done for you with as much excellence and ease for you as we can.

We are here to serve you during a difficult time.

Best wishes,

Kristina R. Hess, Esq.

San Diego Probate Lawyer

Berkeley Law Grad, Class of 1999