Probate is one of the most misunderstood aspects of the estate administration process. Many people in California will do anything to avoid putting their estate through probate, even if it means placing all their assets in trusts. Probate can be stressful, but it doesn’t always have to be a long, drawn-out nightmare.
Why probate isn’t as bad as people believe
If you’re dealing with a smaller estate, probate doesn’t have to drag on for months. Some states have laws that allow smaller estates to bypass probate or go through a shorter process. If your estate is worth less than $100,000, you might not have to worry about your assets going through probate.
The probate process can also protect your family members from creditors. According to probate law, creditors have to make a claim on your estate within a limited time frame. If they miss their chance, they forfeit their right to collect the outstanding debt. This means that your relatives can’t be harassed by creditors for years after your death.
Some estate planning attorneys recommend placing your assets in a trust or signing off ownership while you’re still alive to avoid probate. However, you can’t sign away everything–you still need a house, car and source of income while you’re still alive. For some assets, you might have no choice but to accept that they’ll go through the probate process.
Want to learn more about probate?
Figuring out what to do with your estate can be challenging–and to make matters worse, you won’t be around to divide up your assets yourself. An attorney could answer any questions that you have and help you prepare your estate as much as possible. They could suggest ways to minimize the amount of time that your estate spends in probate.