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Commonly Asked Questions in Estate Planning

How much does probate cost in California?

Having your estate probated in California can be very expensive and time consuming. By working with an attorney on your estate planning in advance, you can avoid the significant cost of probate (see chart at the bottom*). Also, keep in mind that having a will, without a trust, will not allow you to avoid probate.

Do I have to appear in probate court if I’m not in California?

Your attorney can handle all legal matters associated with probate.  Your personal appearance however, does depend on the complexity of the matter. All probate proceedings require the involvement of the Executor, Administrator, Trustee and beneficiaries of the estate. In situations in which the probate is uncontested, the process can be fairly smooth and requires no actual appearance of the parties involved. If matters in the probate proceedings are contested, then appearance by the Executor, Administrator or Trustee, and beneficiaries may be required to resolve disputes over distribution.

How to find out if I’m a beneficiary in a relative’s will?

With respect to beneficiaries, a Trustee or Executor has the duty to administer the Trust or will solely in the interest of the beneficiaries. A beneficiary has the right to request a copy of the Trust or Will. During the administration of a Trust or will, the Trustee or Executor has a duty to keep the beneficiaries reasonably informed of the trust or will and its administration.

How to transfer title on a house?

To transfer title of real property, you must file a deed with the County where the real property is located. The deed needed may vary depending on the type of transfer. Importantly, whether a transfer may subject the transferee to property reassessment at the time of the transfer must be evaluated prior to recording any deed or significant tax consequences could result. Exceptions to reassessment exist with respect to specific transfers which may enable the parties to avoid reassessment but only if done properly and timely.

To learn how our attorneys can assist you with your estate planning or other legal needs, contact us today.

(*Please note there could be additional fees for work outside the normal scope of probate, including but not limited to: asset sales, filing fees, tax preparation, and litigation.)

Gross Asset Value of Entire Estate Estimated Compensation to Attorney Without Proper Estate Planning With Proper Estate Planning – No Probate Needed
 $      400,000  $     22,000 $0
 $      500,000  $     26,000 $0
 $      700,000  $     34,000 $0
 $  1,000,000  $     46,000 $0
 $  2,000,000  $     66,000 $0
 $  3,000,000  $     86,000 $0
 $  4,000,000  $   106,000 $0

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