Is Probate Always Necessary?
Probate is not always necessary for distributing certain assets from an estate. If the decedent owned assets in joint tenancy with another individual, such as survivorship community property with their spouse, in a living trust, or in an account with a payable-on-death beneficiary, these assets do not need to go through probate. Assets inherited by surviving spouses or registered domestic partners can be transferred with a Spousal (or Domestic Partner) Property Petition. This petition must be submitted to the court for approval, but this method is significantly easier and quicker than undergoing regular probate.
Alternatively, probate can be avoided if the total value of the probate estate (or the assets that cannot be transferred to beneficiaries in the ways described above) equals $166,250 or less. In this case, inheritors can submit a small estate affidavit or use simplified probate procedures to streamline the probate process. A small estate affidavit is a short legal document in which the beneficiary states that they are entitled to receive a certain asset.
This option is available when the total estate value is less than the figure above or if the estate contains real estate valued at no more than $55,425. When this affidavit is given to the person or institution holding the property, along with a copy of the death certificate, this releases the assets for distribution after a six-month waiting period.
To qualify for simplified probate procedures, a probate case must not already be pending for the estate. In this process, the beneficiary files a written request in the county where the decedent lived or held assets. This request must name the executor, explain the beneficiary’s relationship with the decedent,include an appraised inventory of the estate assets, state the property they are requesting, and list each beneficiary’s names, ages, addresses, and relationships. Obtaining written consent from the executor is required. There is a forty-day waiting period before assets can be distributed.
Contact Our El Dorado Law Group for Probate Representation
If you are tasked with administering an estate, you need dedicated legal counsel on your side. Although you may be tempted to handle the probate process on your own, probate law is notoriously complex. Understanding how the law applies to your specific situation is crucial for obtaining the best results. Making even seemingly minor mistakes can delay or derail the process, and any number of serious disputes may arise that further complicate matters. Approaching probate with an experienced attorney is the only way to ensure you accurately prepare and file all necessary documents and properly fulfill your responsibilities to the estate.
At McCunn Law, we recognize that your loved one’s legacy is at stake, so we provide the comprehensive, compassionate representation you need to navigate every step of the probate process. We can help you determine whether probate is necessary in your situation, understand which assets may be exempted from the probate process, and help you resolve any issues you encounter. Contact McCunn Law today to speak with our El Dorado estate protection attorneys.