There are certain words in the English language that inspire confusion in those who hear them. One of those words is probate. Though not all California residents have had to deal with this legal process, most are probably wary of it even though they may not know what it is. This post will generally address the topic of probate, what it is, and why it may be relevant to one's estate planning goals.
Probate is simply the process of assigning one's property to others after the original owner's death. For example, if a Torrance resident has a will that states that they wish to give their brother their entire collection of baseball cards, the probate process would collect those cards and ensure that they were delivered to the intended recipient.
While this may not sound like a horrific event, there are good reasons that some people work to avoid having their end-of-life assets go through probate. One reason is that probate can be costly. There are fees that may apply when property is probated, and those fees can diminish the value of an estate. Another reason that probate can be frustrating is that it may take a long time to complete. As property is located and amassed, beneficiaries may have to wait months just to collect the inheritances they were promised in the decedent's estate plan.
There are ways to avoid probate and to reduce its impact on one's estate plan. Speaking with an estate administration and probate attorney is a good step toward developing a strong understanding of probate and how to maximize the value of one's end-of-life assets.