Probate is a Court procedure where a deceased person’s assets are administered to ensure that all creditors are paid, all rights of the beneficiaries and heirs are protected, and the estate assets are properly and fairly distributed. Probate takes anywhere between nine months and two years, and can be very complicated. Probate is also very expensive. California’s Probate Code sets attorneys fees at an average of two percent of the Gross Value of the Estate plus $3,000.00. An executor would receive an equivalent fee. Accordingly, an estate which owns a $500,000.00 home and $50,000.00 in stock can cost up to $29,000.00 in fees and costs.
With proper estate planning, probate can be avoided. However, if a person dies without this type of planning, probate will be necessary. If the deceased person had a Will and a person is named in the Will as the Executor, that person has priority to be appointed by the Court as the Executor. If there is no Will, then any interested family member or person can petition the Court to be the administrator of the Estate. Executors and Administrators are generically referred to as “Executors.” We represent Executors on a regular basis and ensure that they comply with all required laws and legal procedures. We are well-versed in all of the Probate Court processes, and our goal is to ensure that our clients move the estate swiftly and efficiently through probate.
Being an Executor is a big responsibility. California’s probate code contains pages and pages of complex legal rules and procedures that an Executor must follow in the course of probate. If a Executor violates any of these rules, they can be held personally liable for losses to the estate. For these reasons, it is imperative that such a person is represented by competent legal counsel who has extensive experience in dealing with these matters.
Also, there are certain deadlines that an Executor must meet in filing papers with the Court. It is imperative that any person so named in a Will contacts an attorney as soon as possible after the death of the decedent in order to avoid legal liability. In extreme cases, that person can be held financially liable for failing to abide by their legal duties.