It doesn’t matter if you’re creating an estate plan in California or facing the probate process after the death of a loved one, it’s critical to understand the finer details to ensure yourself of making all the right decisions.
There are times when the probate process is uncontested, with everything unfolding as planned. Contested probate is also possible, typically because a disgruntled heir is seeking more money or someone feels they were unfairly left out of a person’s estate plan.
The basics of probate
While there is a lot going on during probate and the process is never exactly the same for two estates, here are some basics that always come into play:
- Collection of all probate property
- Collection and payment of all claims, debts and taxes owed by the estate
- Collection of all outstanding income, such as final paychecks and retirement payments
- Settlement of disputes
- Distribution of all remaining property to the heirs outlined in the deceased individual’s estate plan
If everything goes as planned, these steps will typically unfold over the course of three to six months. However, if someone contests the will, it’s not out of the question for probate to drag on for a year or longer.
How much does it cost?
It’s natural to have concerns about the cost of probate. When creating an estate plan, make decisions to help simplify the probate process, with the idea of cutting down on costs for your heirs.
The costs associated with probate are based largely on the complexity of the estate and how long the process takes to complete. The most common expenses include:
- Court costs
- Personal representative fees
- Attorney fees
Uncontested probate will almost always cost less than contested probate.
Understanding what happens in probate can help you make the right decisions, either for yourself or your loved ones after your passing. It’s not always easy to think about this or tackle probate during a difficult time, but knowing what you can and can’t do will put you on the right track to success.
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