Probate – When a person becomes incompetent and has failed to establish and Estate Plan prior to becoming incompetent, that person may not be legally cared for by anyone without going through a court procedure known as a Conservatorship. After the procedure is completed, which includes numerous public court hearings, a Court investigator, etc., the person who has volunteered to serve as the Conservator is appointed. The Conservator is required to prepare and submit to Court for approval, detailed accountings of all financial activities, etc. The cost of establishing a Conservatorship is typically around $10,000.00 and the cost of the periodic, detailed reports can also run as much as $10,000.00 per year.
When a person dies without a Living Trust and their estate includes real property and/or is in excess of $100,000.00, prior to their heirs receiving anything, everything must be processed through the Probate Court. The average time to probate an estate in California is two years. In addition, the cost to complete the Probate process starts at 4% averages approximately 3% of the gross value of the estate. Therefore, a person who dies in San Diego County, that owns any real property can expect that tens of thousands of dollars or more, will be lost in Probate fees and costs.