Craig J. Bauman Attorney at Law – California
email cjb@californialawpractice.com or call (858) 488-1497

Principal Purpose of a Will:

The principal purpose of a Will is to state, in a legal document, how you would like to have your estate distributed at your death and who you would like to have serve as Executor to be in charge of making those distributions.

If a Person Has No Will:

If you do not have a Will in place at your death, the State of California and all other states, have Intestate Succession laws that provide instructions and procedures to be followed. Unfortunately, Intestate Succession laws are basically only a set formula that arbitrarily divided you estate based upon who survives you and places in charge the person or persons who petition the court to serve as your Administrator – the person who serves as the “Executor” when there is no Will. The Administrator settles the estate through the Probate process (see more on “With a WillProbate”, below).

Nearly everyone finds this procedure to be unacceptable. People naturally would like to choose who is in charge of their estate at their death and to whom assets are to be given. In many families, certain children or other relatives have been assisted financially during the person’s lifetime and so an unequal distribution would be desired, but this is not possible if there is no Will. Similarly, many people with grandchildren, would like to make separate, specific gifts to the children of their children, which is also not possible if there is no Will. Additionally, although hopefully it is not the case in your family, in many families there are the so-called “black sheep” that would be excluded as beneficiaries in a Will, but to whom intestate succession laws give an equal share – so “Bad Billy” gets the same size share as “Suzie Sweet”.

Last, but certainly not least, there are certain procedures that state laws require be followed that cause the average time it takes for the settlement of an estate through Probate to be approximately 24 months. While smaller estates may be settled in “only” 18 months, larger estates can take several years to settle with costs in terms of legal fees and court costs being astronomical. Add to that, the mountain of paper work required and the attorney fees required to produce and submit that paperwork and fees and costs run into the tens of thousands of dollars!

With a Will – Probate:

For all estates settled through a Will, state laws sets a limit of $100,000 that may be settled without formal Probate. Also, if the estate includes any real property, some form of Probate is required, no matter the value of the estate. For estates under the $100,000 limit, there is a 40 day waiting period before any assets can be touched. However, at that point, by following fairly simple procedures, an estate can be settled fairly easily in a few months.

If the total value of the assets exceeds the $100,000 level, then a formal Probate must be conducted and the same procedure is followed as for persons without a Will. Again, as stated above, Probate typically lasts a average of 24 months and the fees are as huge as the pile of paperwork that must be submitted to the court. Then there are the hearings and the cost of providing notice of hearings to all persons listed in the Will, etc. For an estate valued at $200,000, the Probate fees are in excess of $10,000 and for an estate valued at $700,000, the Probate fees are in excess of $30,000. In addition, this “value” is based upon the gross estate, before figuring any loans against real property, etc.

Will as Part of an Estate Plan:

In addition to at least establishing a Will, to avoid having your estate being settled through Probate or at least settled according to your wishes, if an Estate Plan is established before death, with a Living Trust as its centerpiece, then Probate and all the fees and time wasted can be eliminated. Basically, the majority of a person’s assets are held in the name of the person’s Living Trust, leaving less than $100,000 outside the Trust, which can be settled quickly, along with the settlement of the Living Trust. The Living Trust takes care of transferring any real property and invetments / bank accounts and the Will just takes care of transferring personal items (jewelry, keepsakes, etc.) and any minor assets.. Living Trusts can typically be settled in a few months, with estates that include real property sometimes taking longer depending on how that real property is distributed. CLICK ON “LIVING TRUSTS” or “ESTATE PLANNING” for further information.

Craig J. Bauman, Attorney at Law (858) 488-1497
Email: contact@baumanenterprises.com

San Diego Attorney: Representing Clients in Estate Planning, Livings Trusts, Wills and related documents.

The legal services I offer include: Estate Planning (Living Trusts, Wills, Financial Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney, Real Property Trust Transfers, Probate, Conservatorship, Guardianship, Inheritance Disputes)
” Other Legal Services (Prenuptial Agreements, LLCs, Incorporations)

For more information, please contact:
Craig J. Bauman Attorney at Law – Local to San Diego, California
email cjb@californialawpractice.com or call (858) 488-1497

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