What Is Probate?
Probate is a legal court process that oversees the transfer of assets to rightful heirs according to a will along with the payment of existing debts following a death. If no will exists assets are distributed according to state intestacy law.
At The Law Office of Matthew C. Yu, we handle all aspects of probate and estate administration. Our probate lawyers can help your family through the process whether your loved one left a will or not. Whether your loved one had property in Manhattan Beach or resided in Torrance, we can explain the process and help you through it.
How Do I Inherit My Parents’/Grandparents’ Estate?
In order to pass assets from one person to their heirs, the estate must be probated. This means that the court must determine:
- Was there a valid will?
- Who are the rightful heirs?
- What debts remain to creditors?
In addition, a public notice must also be published in the newspaper. Each estate must go through this process, if there was not a living (revocable) trust.
If you have recently lost a loved one, then probate may be the only way for you to inherit their estate.
Is Probate Required For Small Estates?
The state of California has set minimum dollar thresholds for estates that may avoid probate. Estates worth more than $150,000 in total assets or estates with assets more than $20,000 in real estate assets will be subject to probate.
That means if the deceased owned a home in California worth more than $20,000, their assets must pass through probate.
Joint Tenancy And Probate
Joint tenancy and joint tenancy with right of survivorship are both titling methods that delay probate. When the first tenant passes away, their interest ceases to exist and the remaining tenant takes ownership. However, upon the passing of the surviving tenant the estate will then be probated.
Sometimes, people take it upon themselves to add an additional person on title, upon the death of the first tenant or spouse (usually the case). This action can cause many problems. The gift of an asset to another may trigger a gift tax and failure to notify the IRS about the gift may give rise to other tax issues. The additional tenant may also bring unneeded liability to the property. Consult an estate planning attorney who specializes in this area of the law to find out how to avoid these issues.
Tenancy In Common/Community Property And Probate
Both the TIC and CP designations do not avoid probate. They both trigger probate upon the death of the first tenant or spouse. In some cases, we can use a summary probate proceeding to get property retitled.