You keep saying “avoid probate.” Is probate bad?
AIt is not that probate is bad. It can be a useful process to help families settle a deceased loved ones financial affairs. However it does have certain drawbacks that many people find aggravating.
AIt can take anywhere from 9-18 months to settle a probate case. This means that no assets will be distributed to the beneficiaries until the case has been settled.
Public Process.
AThis means that all of the assets in the deceased’s estate will be listed in the public record, along with the distributions made to the beneficiaries when probate is closed. This can expose the beneficiaries to financial scammers, junk mail, even friends and family members asking for money since they know the beneficiary received an inheritance.
Distribution According to Law.
AIt is important to have a will. A will does not avoid probate, but it will tell the court how the deceased wished their assets to be distributed. However, if a person dies without a will, the court has no instructions on how to distribute the estate. Instead the court will decide who will be a beneficiary, and what portion of the estate they will receive.
ATypically attorneys quote a fee for their services, and the client decides whether they wish to retain, or continue looking for other counsel. This is not the case when it comes to probate. The State of California has made attorney fees for probate cases statutory. The fee amount is based on the gross value of the decedent’s estate. The current statutory formula for attorney fees is the following:

Not to mention the additional fees that are associated with a probate:

  • Petition filing fees – $465 per petition. There is a petition to both open and close a probate case.
  • Publication fee – usually between $200 and $1000
  • Bond fee – ranges greatly because it depends on the size of the estate and the estate representative’s authority over the estate assets; anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars
  • Probate Referee fee (estate appraisal) – 0.1% of the total value of the gross probate estate
  • Representative compensation – the executor/administrator is entitled to the same compensation as the attorney. This means that if the attorney is entitled to $8,000 in fees, then the executor/administrator would also be entitled to $8,000


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