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PROBATE PROCESS KICKS IN AT DEATH.

Byline: Howard S. Bodenheimer

ASK THE LAWYER

Q What is probate?

A probate is the court-supervised process of transferring the assets of someone who has died. For someone with a will (a situation known as "testate"), the property is transferred to designated beneficiaries.

In those situations in which the decedent did not have a will ("intestate"), the California Probate Code sets forth a road map of who is eligible to inherit. It begins with a spouse or domestic partner, followed by children, parents, siblings (nephews and nieces), grandparents (uncles and aunts), children of a predeceased spouse, next of kin and parents of a predeceased spouse (or their children).

At a minimum, it will take six to seven months from the date the petition for probate is filed with the court until a distribution order is signed. Additional time will be required if disputes with creditors, sales of property or other special circumstances are involved.

There are several separate costs in the probate process, starting with the filing fee of $320. The probate code also requires publication of a notice of the initial hearing; that cost is based on where the publication takes place.

The third element is the cost of the probate referee who sets the value of all noncash assets of the decedent.

The estate's representative and the estate's attorney are each entitled to receive the same fee, based on a formula directed by the probate code. It stipulates 4 percent of the first $100,000, 3 percent of the next $100,000; 2 percent of the next $800,000; and 1 percent of anything higher.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 17, 2008
Words:267
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