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Probate Court is necessary if the decedent did not have a living trust to designate beneficiaries or assets. The probate court will first have to determine an inventory of assets the decedent has left to determine to the proper distribution of the decedent’s estate.

If there is a last will, the probate court also has to ensure the proper execution of the will; if there’s none, the court has to go through “intestacy proceedings”, which are governed by state law.

The probate process has initially been created as a measure to prevent fraud. However probate court proceedings in California often overshoot that purpose and the process can take up to 12 months. During the long process, the costs and time can often add up and outweigh the potential benefits of inheriting an estate. Fees often include hiring a probate lawyer, an executioner, court costs and other expenses. These are usually taken out of the estate before are paid and can easily sum up to at least $15,000.

Holding assets in different states can be an even greater hassle. In this case, the heirs would have to hire a lawyer for every single state in that the deceased had owned property.

As an experienced probate attorney in the San Francisco Bay Area– in most cases, I strongly advise my clients to avoid the long and at times confusing probate case by setting up a living trust in advance. However, not everyone has prepared a trust for when they pass. In this case, we are happy to help with your probate case, and to make it as easy and concise as possible.

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