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Understanding the Processes of Probate and Trust Administration

By June 3, 2017 No Comments

Dealing with courts and legal issues is often challenging and difficult. This is especially true if you have to sort out a loved one’s estate after death. It’s a good idea to research this issue so you and your loved ones can discuss the best way to handle affairs ahead of time. For this post, we’re going to go over two different ways an estate can be handled after death: probate and trust administration.

If a person dies without a will, the technical term for this is intestacy. In California, the estates of people who die intestate and who owned real property worth $50,000 or more or who had assets worth $150,000 must go through probate. Probate means that the court is in charge of changing legal title of assets to the heirs. Most people want to avoid probate. It can be expensive to hire attorneys, pay court fees, and other fees for newspaper notices. The process is also long. It can take a year or two for everything to be distributed.

Set Up Trust Administration with a Successor Trustee to Avoid Probate

Probate can be avoided by setting up trust administration. This means naming a trustee–the person who will administer a person’s estate after their death. It also means naming heirs for all major assets. There is no court supervision in trust administration. Once the trustee has the death certificate, he or she would contact an attorney to help with all the paperwork necessary for trust administration. A smooth process can be finished in four to six months.

While probate is usually more time consuming and costly, there are advantages to both probate and trust administration. There are some situations in which having an impartial judge administer the estate could be advantageous. On the other hand, an impartial person like a professional fiduciary can be named the successor trustee, which would help ensure equitable distribution.

If you are in a probate or trust administration process or would like help setting up a trust, please call our office. We work hard to ensure that everything happens as efficiently as possible.