Probate is the court supervised administration of a decedent’s estate. Probate is required when a decedent leaves either more than $50,000 of real property, or more than $166,250 of personal property, in the decedent’s name alone and with no death beneficiary. In this situation, a title company or financial institution will require probate court issued “Letters Testamentary” to clear title or to deliver assets to the decedent’s court appointed personal representative.
Probate avoidance devices include living trusts, that have capital gains tax avoidance advantages at death, and joint tenancy and pay-on-death accounts, some of which have capital gains tax disadvantages at death. Probate avoidance is generally desirable, due to the additional estate settlement time delay and probate court costs involved.
Many people die leaving no estate documents, or only a Will, with significant assets requiring probate by state law. Attorney Steve Rudd has had considerable experience handling probate cases in several counties in California, and his legal assistant is familiar with the various counties’ local court rules. The probate attorney’s fee is generally governed by state law. Hire an experienced probate attorney, because experience does not cost more.