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How is the cost of probate determined in California?

On Behalf of | Aug 30, 2022 | Probate & Trust Administration

Thinking about what will happen to your hard-earned assets and other intimate belongings like family heirlooms can be very unsettling. However, death is inevitable. If you have a valid will at the time of your demise, all assets in your will shall go through probate.

Probate is the process of identifying the decedent’s assets, paying their debts and taxes and distributing the remaining properties according to their will or intestacy laws (if they die without a will). However, probate costs money.

Here are some of the factors that impact the overall cost of probate:

Whether the decedent had a will on not – If the decedent had a will, the probate court will first seek to validate it. After this, the decedent’s instructions in the will document will guide how the assets are distributed. However, if the decedent died intestate, then the probate court will determine how their estate is distributed according to California intestacy laws. In both instances, the probate cost will vary.

Issues with the decedent’s will – Probating a will can be seamless if the dependents do not dispute the document. Things can take an unpleasant turn, however, if someone decides to dispute the will. Some of the reasons why your will may be contested include improper execution, undue influence, lack of testamentary capacity and lack of witnesses among others.

The complexity of the decedent’s estate – Subject to the size and complexity of the decedent’s estate, it may be subjected to state and federal taxes. Computing and submitting these estate taxes require expert guidance, and this can add up to the cost of the probate.

Still on the complexity of the decedent’s estate, identifying the decedent’s assets, especially those that are out of state, often requires time and effort. This too can push up the overall cost of probate.

Probate is inevitable if you have a will. Find out how you can minimize the cost of probating your California estate.