According to Inheritance Advanced, every year hundreds of thousands of people who have lost loved ones must go through the probate process, spending about two billion dollars annually on probate. Since only a little more than a third of all American adults have a will or any type of estate plan, probate is a fact of life, for families of decedents who left a will, as well as those who did not. Probate can be a lengthy, expensive process, as well as one that becomes public once the probate is completed. More and more people who engage in estate planning are taking specific steps to avoid making their loved ones go through the probate process. If you are considering having an estate plan prepared, it can be extremely beneficial for you to speak to attorney Eric Gullotta from the Gullotta Law Firm. Erica can listen to your wishes, and then help you choose strategies that can minimize the assets that must go through probate—or avoid probate altogether.
About the Gullotta Law Group
When you choose the Gullotta Law Group, you are taking the first important step toward creating a comprehensive estate plan that fully reflects your wishes, as well as considering the impact that the probate process could have on your loved ones. An estate plan will not only assist your loved ones after you pass, but it could also have a significant impact on you, should you become incapacitated as a result of an accident or illness. Our firm is unique in several different ways, perhaps most notably because of our flat-fee pricing for estate plans.
When you know exactly what your estate plan will cost, you don’t have to constantly watch the clock. You have the freedom to ask the questions you want to ask and get the answers you deserve. The goal of the Gullotta Law Group is to make estate planning a comfortable, easy experience that does not overly burden you but allows you to take an active role in creating an estate plan that is uniquely tailored to your life circumstances, your goals, and your wishes. Rather than telling you what you need, attorney Gullotta will listen carefully to you, and then translate your wishes into legally binding documents that make up your estate plan.
How Your Gullotta Law Group Probate Attorney Serving Santa Rosa Can Help You
The Gullotta Law Group can help with probate issues in a variety of ways. When preparing your estate plan, we can implement certain strategies that can help your loved ones either avoid probate altogether, or that can minimize probate, if this is what you want. Following your death, we can either assist your named executor with the probate, or we can handle all probate administration tasks so your loved ones don’t have this extra burden. In the event that there is a challenge to your will, we can handle probate litigation as well. Every aspect of probate can be handled efficiently by the Gullotta Law Group.
What Is Probate Court?
California probate court is a specialized type of court that deals exclusively with the property, assets, and debts of a decedent, whether that individual had a will or not. The probate court judge oversees the entire probate process to ensure that all the decedent’s debts are paid and that the remaining assets are distributed either according to the wishes of the decedent as detailed in his or her will, or according to California intestacy laws.
What Is Ancillary Probate?
Ancillary probate is necessary when a decedent has property in other states besides California. There will be a primary probate in the state of California, along with ancillary probates in every other state where the decedent owned property. Since the probate laws in every state are different from one another, it can get very complex if ancillary probate cases must be opened in several states. This is definitely a situation that can benefit from having a strong probate attorney serving Santa Rosa on your side.
Who Inherits if You Have No Will?
If you die without a will in the state of California, you are said to die “intestate,” which triggers the intestate succession laws of the state that determine who will inherit your assets. A personal representative or executor will be appointed to follow the rules of probate. After all expenses have been paid the remaining assets will be distributed as follows:
- The surviving spouse of a person who is married at the time of their death but has no children, will receive the entire estate—marital property and non-marital property.
- If the decedent has children and is married, the surviving spouse inherits all the marital property and one-third of the non-marital property. The remaining two-thirds of the non-marital property is then divided equally among the children.
- If the decedent is unmarried at the time of his or her death but has children, the children inherit all assets and property to be divided equally among them.
- The surviving spouse of a decedent who has no children but whose parents are alive, will receive all marital property and half the non-marital property, while the parents of the decedent will receive half of the non-marital property.
- The parents of a decedent with no spouse and no children will receive all decedent’s assets.
- The surviving spouse of a decedent with no children and no living parents will receive all the marital property and half of the non-marital property, while any siblings of the decedent will receive the other half of the non-marital property to be distributed equally among the siblings.
- If there is no spouse, no living parents, and no children, the siblings will inherit all assets, to be divided equally.
- If there is no spouse, no living parents, no children, and no siblings, nieces and nephews are next in line, then grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins.
Must Small Estates Be Probated in California?
California does offer some special rules that apply to small estates that allow these estates to avoid the formal probate process—whether there is a will or not. Assets held in joint tenancy are not counted in the determination of whether the estate meets the small estate limits, and neither are retirement plans, TOD brokerage accounts, POD bank accounts, life insurance policies with a named beneficiary, or real estate transferred via a transfer-on-death deed. Excluding these assets, if the personal property value does not exceed $184,500, the estate qualifies for a quicker, easier Affidavit process with a 40-day waiting period. The affidavit is used to collect any compensation owed to the deceased. A summary probate process is also available for those estates that are below the threshold.
Is Probate Expensive?
Unlike many other states, in the state of California, probate attorney fees and executor compensations are determined by California Probate Code Sections 10800 and 10810. These fees are based on the gross value of the estate, and are as follows:
- 4 percent on the first $100,000
- 3 percent on the next $100,000
- 2 percent on the next $800,000
- 1 percent on the next $9 million
- 0.5 percent on the next $15 million
- For all amounts above $25 million, the court will determine a “reasonable” level of compensation.
How a Gullotta Law Group Probate Attorney Serving Santa Rosa Can Help
Facing probate on your own can be an extremely daunting experience. Having an experienced probate attorney from the Gullotta Law Group can make the process much less stressful. If you are the named executor for an estate, it can be extremely beneficial for you to speak to attorney Eric Gullotta. Eric has the education, background, experience, and knowledge necessary to answer all your questions and ensure the probate goes smoothly and quickly. Eric has been handling California probates for many years. He and his staff are committed to making the estate planning and probate process as painless as possible. Contact the Gullotta Law Group today!