Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Main Reasons People Go to Probate Court in California and How to Avoid It

Having to go to court is never any fun, especially when it is required to settle the estate of a deceased family member or friend. But the one of the main reasons estates end up in probate court in California is a lack of foresight or not having the right end of life paperwork prepared.

When a person dies, they obviously have no need for any possessions they owned, so naturally the surviving relatives and friends will want to split these up and claim them for themselves. Probate is involved in almost every case of death, but its role can be defined by the deceased through the execution of a will. If a will is in effect, one reason people go to probate court in California is simply to find out what has been left to them.

When someone wants to contest the will, the probate court will decide the matter. More and more, this unfortunately is another of the main reasons people go to probate court in California. These usually occur in cases where the deceased had a lot of assets or money, and the rest of the family is not on great terms with each other. But, by having a properly written and executed will in place, you can avoid more bad blood and fighting after you are gone.

The worst of the main reasons people go to probate court in California is the deceased had no will at the time of their death. This is more common with younger people, as their dying is often the furthest thing from their mind. However, anyone that has any kind of assets is best served by having a will in place. Otherwise, the probate court will decide who gets your assets, and in what amounts. If your intention is that $50,000 of your life insurance is to go into a trust fund for both your son and daughter to go to college, you definitely need a will. Otherwise, your spouse may get the whole amount, and obviously there is nothing you can do to make sure it is used according your wishes.

Probate can be a messy, time consuming, and expensive undertaking. But, it’s also one that is fully avoidable by taking the time to have a revocable living trust prepared and executed.  In California, a revocable living trust will ensure that the estate avoid the probate court, and the administration and distribution of the assets will be conducted privately and without a court case.

Either way, a properly prepared and executed last will and testament or a revocable living trust will help to avoid bad feelings among your survivors, since they will get what you want them to have, and won’t have any basis to fight over anything else because you have expressly stated your wishes.