Palos Verdes and Torrance Probate Attorney
Probate is the court process by which your assets are transferred at your death if you have a Will or if you don't have a Will. Depending on your situation, the process of probate could range from a simple court proceeding to a complex process. In any circumstance, it is in your best interest to contact a qualified attorney to handle the administration of your family member's probate estate.
Experienced Attorneys With a Dedicated Focus on Probate
Peninsula Law has extensive experience representing clients in probate court. Due to the fact that our firm focuses solely on probate law, estate planning and administration, we are extremely knowledgeable on all aspects of the probate process. Our attorneys spend a great deal of time in the probate courts. We know the process like the back of our hands. We can also help clients best prepare for probate by ensuring all the proper documents are completed and filed with the court. Our attorneys work diligently to complete the process of probate in an efficient and cost-effective manner, so you can concentrate on healing during this difficult period. Learn more about the probate process and its associated fees.
Peninsula Law can also help clients administer an intestate estate, which is when a loved one has passed away and did not leave a will or estate plan.
Probate is not free. On the contrary, it can be quite costly. There are fees for the attorney and fees for the personal representative. You'll need an attorney to handle the court process, e.g., preparing and filing court papers, appearing at hearings, and advising the personal representative about his/her fiduciary duties. Plus, you'll need a personal representative (an executor or administrator) to physically attend to the decedent's estate, e.g., closing accounts, paying off debts, notifying heirs. (Usually an executor is named in a Will. If a Will does not exist, the court will appoint an administrator based upon statutory hierarchy). Both the attorney fees and personal representative fees are set by California statute as follows:
Gross Value of Estate Attorney Fees Personal Representative Fees
1st $100K 4% 4%
Next $100K 3% 3%
Next $800K 2% 2%
Next $9mil 1% 1%
Next $15mil 0.5% 0.5%
>$25mil Reasonable amount to be determined by the court.
Therefore, an estate with a total gross value of $1 million will have a price tag of $46,000 in probate fees (attorney fees will cost $23,000 and personal representative fees will cost $23,000). In addition to these basic fees, the attorney and personal representative may be compensated for extraordinary services, such as, engaging in ancillary litigation. Such compensation is usually based upon an hourly fee rate set by an attorney. Aside from all these fees, there is also the cost of the time involved in a probate proceeding. An average probate takes about 20 months. Therefore, there is a long wait before the beneficiaries will receive their bequests. Because of the time and costs of probate, most people opt to avoid the process. The only way to do this is to set up a revocable living trust. See our trust section for more information about living trusts.
*Probate fees are based on the gross value of the estate. Meaning, if you have a $500,000 house with a $350,000 mortgage, the $500,000 figure is used to determine fees. There are certain types of assets, however, that do not require probate due to the nature of the asset. For instance, property held in joint tenancy or community property with right of survivorship automatically passes by operation of law to the surviving joint tenant or spouse. When the surviving joint tenant or spouse dies, however there will be a complete probate on the estate. Other assets, such as those that pass to a beneficiary by contract, e.g., life insurance, annuities, retirement accounts, will also pass outside of probate directly to the beneficiaries named in those contracts. While such assets may avoid probate and thus probate fees, they do not avoid estate taxes. The only way to minimize estate tax liability is to set up an appropriate trust plan.
Torrance and Palos Verdes Probate Law Attorney
From offices in Torrance, California, Peninsula Law represents estate planning and probate clients in communities throughout Los Angeles County, including Palos Verdes. Contact our law firm at 310-694-8703 to reach a skilled Torrance and Palos Verdes probate lawyer. We are conveniently located just off Hawthorne Boulevard in Torrance.