-It can be upsetting for heirs to discover that the probate court has stepped in and delayed the resolution of their deceased loved one’s estate. Adam Daner, the Atascadero estate planning attorney from the Daner Law Firm, said that, in California, if someone dies without a will or a trust and their estate is worth more than $166,250 it is the role the probate court to review and settle the estate.
Probate is the legal process during which the court reviews a will and the estate then distributes assets according to the terms of the will or state law. If there is no will, or if the will is contested, the final decision by the court may not be as the decedent wished. Probate can be legally avoided by creating a trust. A trust is not something that is reserved for the very wealthy. Many of us are surprised to discover just how much what we have is really worth.
A trust can include insurance policies, checking and savings accounts, retirement accounts, personal property, vehicles, real estate, jewelry, investments, pets, tools and any thing else that is of any value. Anyone who owns real estate in California, even the family home that was purchased in 1975 is going to benefit from a trust. It’s well worth the time to make an appointment with the Atascadero estate planning attorney to review everything that comprises you estate.
A revocable trust remains in your control during your lifetime. You can make any changes to your will, your Advanced Health Care Directive (AHCD), also known as a living will, powers of attorney and to your beneficiaries at any time. The trust converts to an irrevocable trust upon death. At that time, the person named as administrator follows your wishes for paying your debts and distributing your estate.
A will alone, or no will, means the probate court makes the final decisions about your estate. A will does provide some level of assurance that your wishes will be honored, but if the will is contested by a creditor or a displeased heir it can take a long time to settle the estate and there are not guarantees your wishes will be honored.
This is a high-level explanation for what can be a complex process. The wisest thing to do is to avoid probate altogether by setting up a trust and the best way to create a trust is to first meet with an experienced estate planning attorney, identify all of your assets to be placed in the trust and make sure the trust is set up correctly.
The Atascadero estate planning attorney can help make sure that a properly and legally documented estate is managed and distributed according to one’s wishes and can avoid probate.
Even if a relative’s estate has already gone to probate, an attorney can be of great benefit for protecting your interests during the probate proceedings. Probate proceedings are not easily challenged, but legal advice and guidance is the best way for heirs to protect their interests.
Mr. Adam M Daner, Esq. of Daner Law Firm, APLC assists clients with all aspects of estate planning, and offers free initial consultations for new estate planning clients.
Estate planning helps people be sure that possessions, real estate holdings, investments and other assets are distributed according to their wishes upon their death. Estate planning also includes planning for incapacity, reducing or eliminating uncertainties of probate, and minimizing other estate liabilities.
Some of the more important estate planning documents include:
- Advanced Health Care Directive (AHCD), or living will
- Guardianship for minor children, disabled or incapacitated adults
- Power or Attorney
Daner Law Firm
4555 El Camino Real, Unit J
Atascadero CA 93422