Appointment of a personal representative enables the administrator of the estate (the fiduciary) to handle the estate. Some of the duties now required by the representative is to gather the assets of the estate, pay liabilities and debts, settle creditor claims, paying out beneficiaries, and closing the estate.
The simplest of probates, in Los Angeles, take roughly 8 months to a year, but the timeline is determined by several factors, including: the court’s schedule (some courts are more backlogged than others); the attorney’s ability to communicate and take action; and whether there are any challenges or litigation brought by interested parties (e.g. a will contest, etc.). All of the aforementioned factors can delay the probate process.
We completely understand the desire by clients to have some idea about how long it will take to move through probate and eventually obtain an inheritance. Therefore, in this blog post we will walk you through what to expect from the process and give you some insight on whether you can anticipate delays before your inheritance makes its way to you.
Here Are Five Key Events to Keep in Mind
- Petition for Probate has been filed. The court hearing date has been set for about six to eight weeks.
- Hearing Day: On the hearing date, the petition is heard by the Court, and the Judge grants the petition, allowing the administrator to begin taking control of the estate.
- Administration letters have been issued. A four month time frame for creditor claims begins.
- A Petition for Final Distribution is filed, with a hearing date scheduled in about eight weeks.
- Hearing Date for Petition for Final Distribution: On the hearing date, the Court hears the petition, grants the petition, and the administrator distributes the estate’s funds and other assets.
As you can see, the above schedule is roughly eight months, assuming no delays and complete completion of all probate steps. In a perfect world, this would be every probate timeline. In practice, however, there are more complicated factors that skew the timeline. Getting the help of an experienced estate planning attorney is key in making sure this does not drag out for an unreasonably long period of time.
Non-Probate Assets Can Help Heirs Avoid A Long Probate Process
Owning non-probate assets gives you access to one of the simplest ways to sidestep the probate process entirely. The probate process can be pretty costly and time-consuming, so your heirs and beneficiaries will undoubtedly appreciate this. Non-probate assets are often made available to specified beneficiaries shortly after the decedent’s death and receipt of a valid death certificate.
By operation of California probate law, any type of property that is not personally owned by the decedent is deemed non-probate property. These are common assets. They can range from automobiles to personal goods, life insurance policies, real estate, and transfer on death accounts.
The benefit of non-probate assets is that they skip the probate process entirely. When the decedent dies, they are almost instantly transferred to the selected individual. Let’s examine some of the most typical kinds of non-probate assets.
- Real estate can be a non-probate asset since it can be held in joint ownership with the right of survivorship, such as by a spouse. This means that upon death, the person transfers ownership to the other living owners or a relative (entirely isolated from the probate process). When entering into a joint ownership situation, it’s important to run your idea by an experienced estate planning attorney. Every family dynamic is unique, and this may not be the best option for some.
- Financial accounts or life insurance policies: Financial accounts or life insurance policies with a chosen beneficiary are another type of non-probate asset. This is significant in estates where a “pay on death” beneficiary designation or section is included to exclude an asset from the probate procedure.
In this type of estate planning, an individual transfers sole ownership of property and titles it in the name of the trust. The designated individual has access to the asset and its benefits but no legal title to the trust asset. This ownership is never transferred, not upon death, and not during the individual’s lifetime.
Expert Estate Planning in Los Angeles, California
The Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo highly advises the executor to retain the services of a law firm to assist in estate administration. An experienced probate and estate planning attorney should draft the documentation needed to open and close the estate, as well as counsel you through this legally complex process. We take satisfaction in being able to help with every aspect of estate administration at the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo. Call us or fill out the client form here!