What is Probate?

Probate means that there is a court case that deals with:
• Transferring the property of someone who has died to the heirs or beneficiaries.
• Deciding if a will is valid.
• Taking care of the financial responsibilities of the person who died.
In a probate case, an executor (if there is a will) or an administrator (if there is no will) is appointed by the court as personal representative to collect the assets, pay the debts and expenses, and then distribute the remainder of the estate to the beneficiaries (those who have the legal right to inherit), all under the supervision of the court. The entire case can take from 9 months to 1 ½ years, maybe even longer.

Does every estate need to be probated?

No, The following estate assets usually do not need to be probated: small estates under $150,000; property passing to a surviving spouse; property held in a living trust; joint tenancy property; accounts with pay on death beneficiaries (POD) such as bank accounts / Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA) / Life Insurance / Pension Funds and Brokerage Accounts; vehicles owned by the decedent.

How much does it cost to probate an estate?

The usual cost to probate an estate include the following: The court filing fee, newspaper publication cost, the probate referee’s fee to value the estate for the court, and in some instances the cost to obtain a bond. These costs usually range from $1,200 – $2,000. The attorney and the estate representative are the paid from the estate for their share of the work in probating the decedent’s estate. The amount of their fee is based on the value of the estate as follows: 4% of the first $100,000; 3% of the next $100,000; 2% of next $800,000; and 1% of the next $9,000,000 (See California Probate Code, Sec. 10800-10810).
For example, if the value of the estate is $500,000 the attorney and the estate representative would each be paid $13,000 calculated as follows:

4% on first $100,000 $100,000 = $4,000
3% on first $100,000 $100,000 = $3,000
2% on first $800,000 $800,000 = $16,000
TOTAL $10,00000 = $23,000

These fees are paid from the decedent’s estate at the conclusion of the probate process and must be approved by the court. The estate representative can choose to waive his or her fee.

Ms. Kaur is a highly experienced attorney in Santa Barbara and neighboring areas for her expertise and skills in all aspects of probate. Contact us for a free consultation.

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