27 May Uncontested Probate: California Document Preparers Can Assist You
We admit it–we’re relentless when it comes to the subject of Living Trusts. By creating and documenting exactly how your estate will be distributed, you will spare your heirs time, money and a lot of agony.
Nevertheless, many people never quite get around to doing this, and they die without a Will or Living Trust, and their estate must go through Probate–the process of transferring legal title to property from a person who has died to that person’s heirs or beneficiaries.
Attorney fees: ordinary and extraordinary fees
Attorneys love Probate because it’s a big-ticket item. There is lots of paper to process and time in Court, and their high “ordinary” fees are set by set by state law. These fees are based on the gross value of the estate, so the presence of a mortgage on the property has no bearing on the fees. On top of that, the attorney can request “extraordinary fees.” Sometimes these extraordinary fees are for services only performed by an attorney, such as for a Will contest – but sometimes the mere act of selling the house during Probate also can qualify as extraordinary services, making the Probate even more costly.
Contested vs. Uncontested Probate
There are two kinds of Probate–Contested and Uncontested. If it’s Contested, it’s generally the matter of an heir seeking a larger portion of the decedent’s estate–and for that, you do need an attorney. The majority of Probate cases, however, are Uncontested, and California Document Preparers helps our clients with Probate on a regular basis, saving them a significant amount of money on legal fees.
The Court-appointed administrator’s role
As part of Probate, the Court appoints a personal representative, or administrator, to settle the estate, so we work with that administrator throughout the Probate process. The administrator is responsible for:
- Collecting all Probate property of the decedent
- Paying all debts, claims and taxes owed by the estate
- Collecting al rights to income, dividends, etc.
- Settling all disputes
- Distributing or transferring the remaining property to the heirs
Access to the decedent’s accounts
The Court-apppointed administrator will be able to gain access to all of the decedent’s records–bank statements, savings accounts and income tax returns, to fully understand the financial landscape. This may include valuing assets, taking physical custody of assets and selling assets, as necessary, to pay off debts or expenses.
During Probate, the deceased’s estate becomes a separate tax entity, so the administrator must obtain a federal identification number and open a bank account in the name of the estate, from which to pay creditors. It is also necessary to file the estate’s tax return and a final individual tax return.
Distribution of remaining assets
Once all taxes and debts have been satisfied, the Court will then distribute any remaining assets according to state law. In California, as in most states, the first priority is given to the deceased’s spouse, followed by the deceased’s children.
If you’re facing an Uncontested Probate, this is a service we provide for our clients. Call one of California Document Preparers’ 3 Bay Area locations for more information today. We guide you through every step.