How Often Should You Review Or Update Your Estate Plan?
Some attorneys will say you should review it every year, but personally I think that’s too much. I tell my clients they should have their trust plan reviewed or updated whenever a big life event happens. For example, if something happens in your relationship with the trustee that you’ve named and you don’t want them to be the trustee anymore, or if you decide that one of your children should not receive anything, or if you decide you don’t want a particular person to get something you were previously going to give them. In all those situations you would need an amendment to your estate plan.
What Is Probate And When Does It Occur In California?
Probate is when you have to go to court to transfer assets after a person dies. If your estate is more than $150,000 it occurs upon the death, and that includes all assets – houses, cars, bank accounts, and life insurance. Typically what happens is that the heirs attempt to sell the house, but are unable to do so until they go through probate. In one case I handled, the heirs already had a buyer for the house and were in escrow, until the title company asked them for the letters of administration. The person who had died was the one who owned the house, so the heirs weren’t able to sign the paperwork. If the estate is worth more than $150,000, you have to go to probate to get permission to sell assets.
How Long Does The Executor Have To Probate A Will?
Probate takes anywhere from six months to a couple of years. In one case I’m working on now, it’s been two years and we’re just finalizing it. One of the main reasons it takes so long is because probate often involves selling or transferring the house, and you have to file paperwork at every stage to keep the court up to date about what you’re doing. There are also court hearings that you have to attend – the original court hearing and then a subsequent court hearing and then a final hearing where you account for everything you’ve done. That’s one reason a living trust is so important because it avoids all the mess of going through probate.
Does A Surviving Spouse Who Is Not Named On A Property Still Need To Go Through Probate?
Yes. In fact, we had a case where the gentleman’s wife had died eight years ago and he was now trying to create a trust. One of the properties he wanted to include wasn’t titled properly, so when his wife passed away, he got 50 percent and her two children got the other 50 percent. Real estate law is very nuanced, and people don’t always understand all the details. Often it’s just about trying to clean up the paperwork. In this case, he wasn’t named on the property and there were children, so he was only entitled to half the property because California is a community property state. I couldn’t put that house in the trust until we got it straightened out. We had to go to court on what’s called a “succession of real property.” The kids had to sign off and say they didn’t want their share in the property because he was leaving it to them in his trust anyway.
How Can A Trust Help Avoid Probate?
You can specify in your will that you want all your assets to go to your trust. Another thing to bear in mind is that you don’t have to go through probate if your estate is worth less than $150,000. Of course, very few people know when they’re going to die, so unless they know they’re terminally ill they can’t just start depleting their assets or they wouldn’t have anything to live on. For the few people who are in that situation, I would advise them to start depleting the estate to bring it down below $150,000 and avoid probate.
For more information on Reviewing/Updating Your Estate Plan, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (530) 317-5556 today.
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