Probate is a court process that takes place after someone dies. It includes:
- proving in court that a deceased person's will is valid
- public inventorying of the deceased person's property
- property appraisal
- paying debts and taxes
- distributing the remaining property as the will or state law directs
Probate involves paperwork and court appearances by lawyers. The lawyers and court fees are paid from estate property, which would otherwise go to the people who inherit the deceased person's property.
The problem with either having no estate or only a will is that it will require your family to go through probate to transfer your estate to your children. A lot of people have this misconception that a will avoids probate. However, the opposite is true: a will is like a letter to the judge saying “your honor, now that I’ve died, I wish for my things to be distributed a certain way. Please supervise the public distribution of my things. Sure, we'll pay for this!”
The problems are that probate is time-consuming and expensive.
Fortunately, probate can be avoided by using a trust such as a revocable living trust. Keep reading for more information or call us now to schedule a free consultation at (310) 750-1006.