The size of an estate dictates if it has to go through probate court or not. In California, an estate without real property that is $150,000 or less in value can be passed to heirs without having to go through probate. Real property, or real estate, has a limit of $50,000. Considering that very few properties in California are worth $50,000 or less, it’s likely that the estate goes into probate unless the real estate is held in joint tenancy or ownership.

Probate only affects assets that are solely owned by the decedent at the time of their passing. Any property that has joint ownership, right of survivorship, designated beneficiary/beneficiaries, pay-on-death account, or assets held in trust are not subject to probate.

Many people want to avoid the probate process for various reasons, but the process is there to ensure that all get what they are entitled to from the estate. It also provides a legal arena in the event that someone challenges the validity of the will. The only major drawback is that it can draw out the inheritance process while all claims and challenges are settled.

When an estate goes into probate, the court makes sure that the personal representative or executor is available to take on the work. If there is no one listed in the will, the court appoints someone. Once the case is opened, the personal representative goes on to fulfill their duties, which include settling debts, notifying heirs, and publishing notices to creditors. In the event a creditor does make a claim on the estate, the personal representative has to settle the claim. To do this, the representative needs a court order that gives them authorized access to the accounts. The financial institution then releases access, and the personal representative can finalize all debts and inheritances while the court observes.

Are you in need of estate planning? Contact Gaudy Law in the Upland area today. Lawyers can help you design trusts or create wills according to your needs.

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