Estate planning can be viewed as something that is done on paper. Indeed, it does involve the execution of legally binding documents. However, there is also a human element to consider when you are engaged in your estate planning efforts.
Recording your wishes on paper is one thing, but how are these wishes going to come to fruition after you pass away? There is a postmortem element, and you should think this through thoroughly when you are planning your estate.
There are various different vehicles of asset transfer that are used in the field of estate planning. The most commonly understood estate planning device that serves this purpose is the last will or last will and testament.
When you create your will, you name someone who will handle the tasks that will present themselves. This estate administrator is called an executor or personal representative.
The executor does not act independently without any type of oversight. In the state of California, the executor must admit the last will to the probate court, and your estate must be probated before the heirs to the estate receive their inheritances.
Before we get into some of the details about California probate, we would like to touch upon some possible probate shortcuts that exist. If you’re married, or if you have a registered domestic partner, a Spousal Property Petition could potentially be utilized to streamline asset transfers to your surviving spouse.
Small estates may be able to avoid the full probate process through the utilization of a simple affidavit or qualification for the simplified probate process.
If your probate property exceeds $150,000 in value, your estate is going to be passing through the full probate process if you use a last will to direct the transfer of your assets.
During the probate process, the executor will address the business of the estate. This is going to include the payment of final debts and taxes.
Estate challenges are possible during the probate process. If the validity of the last will is brought into question by an interested party or parties, the probate court would hear the arguments and ultimately make a determination.
In most cases, the property that comprises the estate is not all going to be liquid. Therefore, it will be up to the executor to inventory all of the assets and engage in the necessary liquidation efforts.
Ultimately, once everything has been properly prepared and the court is fully satisfied, the heirs to the estate will receive their inheritances in accordance with the wishes of the decedent.
This is a brief look at probate in California. To gain a more comprehensive understanding, you may want to download our free special report on probate. You can gain access by clicking this link: California Probate Report.