Probate Explained

Probate administration is a court proceeding with the basic purpose of transferring assets from the deceased to their living relatives or relations. In order to transfer these assets to the intended beneficiaries, the probate must first pay all taxes or debts incurred by the estate. Once all legal requirements have been satisfied through the probate process, a court order will be issued directing the transfer of the estate to the rightful beneficiaries. Generally, this process can lasts between 9 months to 1½ years, although it can sometimes take significantly longer.

Aspects of a Probate


Probate proceedings can be time-consuming and complex, in probate many processes must be completed in order to transfer assets. Aspects of a probate proceeding may include:

  • Appointment of a personal representative for the estate
  • Filing of an inventory and appraisement of the estate assets subject to the probate
  • Payment of all outstanding debts and taxes
  • Sale of assets
  • Distribution of the estate to beneficiaries

Who’s the Personal Representative for the Estate?

In order to complete the probate process, the executor named in the “will” acts as a personal representative for the estate. If there was no will, a court appointed administrator typically acts as the estates personal representative. The personal representative is responsible for all aspects of the administration of the estate due to all the legal requirements involved in a probate proceeding, most personal representatives will hire an experienced probate attorney to assist them.

Probate is a Public Proceeding

Additionally, probate is a public proceeding. This means that the public has full access to everything filed in the probate including your will, a list of all assets, their values, the names of people who will inherit assets and your creditors. To circumvent this unwanted publicity, many people implement a trust for privacy. However, if your loved one did not have a trust, a probate proceeding will progress much more quickly and with less stress if an experienced probate attorney is hired.

Is Probate Avoidable?

Whether a “will” or an estate must go through a probate proceeding will vary greatly depending on the individual circumstances of the case, including the state of the “will” and the size of the estate. Generally, probate is required whenever titled assets exceed $150,000 in gross value upon the death of the owner. To avoid the time and cost involved in probate, it is recommended to create a trust in which all assets can be placed accordingly and in a reasonable time frame. Schedule a free consultation (818) 360-9500.

How Much Does Probate Cost?


Since Probate is a court process, court filing fees must be paid before a probate proceeding can be filed with the courts. The court will appoint a probate referee to appraise the value of the assets in the estate and the probate referee will be paid a fee for those services from the estate. The fees awarded to the personal representative, and to the attorney who represents the personal representative, are set by law and based on the size of the estate; the larger the value of the estate the greater the fee.

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