Estate Planning Lawyer San Diego

Misconceptions about Probate Court

Those going through an estate planning lawyer in San Diego must consult about probate court. Probate court is widely misunderstood among consumers; therefore, one may make selections for their estate plan without realizing the actual impact it has on probate.

Probate is assumed to be a process that only those estates without a will go to; however, probate requires all estates, even those with a will, to pass through the court. This is because the judge has the authority to sign over the assets from the estate to the beneficiaries.

Property Goes to the Government if There is No Estate Plan

When a person dies intestate, without a will, they assume that the government will inherit their assets. This is not true. While it is best to work with an estate planning lawyer in San Diego to create a will, an estate without one will use the hierarchy of beneficiaries created by the statute. Therefore, the intestate will pass through family members like a spouse, surviving children, and other relatives. The private court judge will assign an executor for the estate, and that trustee will follow the hierarchy and court’s instructions for distribution.

Probate Court is Expensive and Estates Pay Taxes to Go through Probate

This is another misconception that is not true. Probate is not as expensive as people may think. However it is time-consuming. If the estate is vast and complex, then probate court could cost more. Especially if there is a will contest or the executor comes under question.

Also, there are exemptions from the estate tax, where the estate would only owe taxes to the federal government when it is worth millions of dollars. Therefore, most estates will not owe any taxes, even if they were to go through probate court.

Trusts are Simpler and Cheaper

There are benefits to using a living trust, but one must consult an estate planning lawyer in San Diego first to see if a trust helps their estate. Living trusts allow beneficiaries to receive assets from the estate without going to probate court. However, the estate planning required for a trust is costly and complicated. So, not all estates should use a trust just to avoid probate — they may pay more doing a trust than just going to probate court to distribute assets.

Also, a living trust is a complex arrangement that requires constant monitoring. When assets are added to the trust, the trustee must ensure that new assets are added. If an asset is sold or removed, then the trustee must see their attorney to remove that asset as well. Therefore, the maintenance could be costlier and more time-consuming than updating a will.

The essential point, consumers should never give into the misconceptions. Instead, they should speak with a qualified attorney about their options for estate planning and how probate court could affect them.


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