Why do you want to avoid Probate…

…because Probate is Expensive.

Probate fees are payable to both the attorney for the estate and the personal representative of the estate (executor of the will or administrator of the estate) and are determined based on “date of death value” of a decedent’s estate. The “date of death value” is determined by a court-appointed Probate Referee.

Date of Death Value

Formulas found in California Probate Code Section 10800(a) (for the personal representative) and Probate Code Section 10810(a) (for the attorney for the estate) is applied to the “date of death value to determine how much will be paid to the personal representative and the attorney for the estate.

The formula is the same for both the Personal Representative and the Attorney for the Estate: The formula is:

  • 4% of the first $100,000
  • 3% of the next $100,000
  • 2% of the next $800,000
  • 1% of the next $9,000,000
  • 0.5% of the next $15,000,000
  • The Court will determine a “reasonable amount” for all amounts above $25,000,000

Mortgages are Irrelevant in Determining Date of Death Value of An estate

The court-appointed Probate Referee will determine the “date of death value” of all of the estate’s assets. The “date of death value” does not take into consideration the amount of equity the decedent had in the property, just the value of the property if it had been sold on the decedent’s date of death.

The “date of death value” does not change based on how much the decedent owed on a mortgage. For the purpose of determining probate fees, a home valued at $1,000,000 on the date of death is still considered to be worth $1,000,000 even if the decedent owned the house subject to a $900,000 mortgage.

Estate Valued at $1,000,000 will be Subject to a Minimum of $46,000 in Probate Fees

For an estate with a date of death value of $1,000,000, the personal representative is entitled to a fee of $23,000 and the attorney for the estate is entitled to a fee of $23,000. If the estate has to sell real property in order to pay the decedent’s debts or if there is extensive litigation beyond the normal probate hearings then the attorney could also be entitled to “extraordinary fees” in addition to statutory fees discussed above.

Additional Probate Expenses

The current fee to file a probate in Los Angeles County is almost $400.00. Upon the filing of the petition for probate, the estate must give notice of the petition for probate in a local newspaper, which could cost an additional $500.00. The Court will appoint a Probate Referee who will appraise the value of the estate and the Probate Referee typically charges a fee of 0.1% to 1% of the gross value of the estate plus costs.

Contact us to Avoid Unnecessary Probate Expenses

The more assets that you have in your estate the more expensive probate will be. Contact us now for a free consultation and we will be happy to tell you how much money we can save your estate by avoiding probate. We are here to help.

What is Probate in California?

Probate in California is a legal process in which the estate of a deceased person is managed by resolving all claims against the deceased person (and the estate) and distributing the deceased person’s assets as dictated under the decedent’s will or pursuant to the rules of intestate succession.

Petition for Probate Must be Filed with the Probate Court

The probate process begins when the Executor files a petition with the probate court asking to be appointed as Executor of the estate. If the decedent had no will and did not have a trust then an interested party may file a petition for probate seeking appointment by the probate court for the authority to administer the estate. The priority for appointment is listed in Probate Code Section 8461.

Personal Representative Approved by the Court

The person approved by the Probate Court to handle the probate is called the Personal Representative. The Personal Representative has many responsibilities but he/she has three primary responsibilities:

  • Take possession of all of the estate’s assets and file an Inventory and Appraisal of the estate assets.
  • Pay debts, taxes and liabilities of the estate.
  • Distribute the remaining assets to the persons entitled to receive them.

The estate’s assets must be protected and the estate’s debts must be paid promptly in order to avoid theft, waste, fraud, or unnecessary expense. Many people retain an attorney to assist in the handling of a Probate to assist in navigating the responsibilities of the job that they must perform.

Contact us now for a free consultation regarding any questions that you may have about a California probate. For more information, read Estate Planning Basics and our Introduction to Estate Planning and Checklist. We are here to help.

Full Coverage Auto Insurance

What is Full Coverage

When I ask clients what kind of insurance they have the most common response that I get is that they have full coverage.  Many people are confident that they have purchased adequate automobile insurance but in reality when a client says that they have full coverage they really mean that they have obtained the minimum insurance required by California law.

Here is a list of various types of automobile insurance and a brief description of each:

Liability Insurance:    This coverage protects you if you are sued as a result of a motor vehicle accident.  Your Liability Limits are the maximum amounts that your insurance company can be required to pay if it is concluded that you are at fault for an accident.

The minimum Liability Limits required for drivers in California are $15,000/$30,000.  The first number represents the maximum benefit that any one victim could recover from your insurance company and the second number represents the maximum combined amount that your insurance company will pay to the victims of any one accident.

The amount of insurance coverage that you need really depends on your personal situation and we will address that in a future post on this Blog.

Property Damage:    There are two types of property damage coverages, comprehensive and collision.  Property damage coverage typically has a deductible, which is the amount of money that your damages must exceed before your insurance company will start to pay for your damages.  The higher the amount of your deductible the lower you will pay for your property damage coverage.

Comprehensive:    This coverage pays to repair or replace your vehicle and personal property inside your vehicle if it was damaged or lost as a result of fire, theft, or vandalism.

Collision:  This coverage will cover damage to:

  1. Your vehicle if your vehicle it is hit by another vehicle.
  2. Another person’s vehicle if you cause damage to that vehicle.
  3. Your vehicle if you are hit by or run into an object including trees, walls, curbs, etc.  This coverage will repair your vehicle regardless of fault.

Medical Payments:  This coverage will pay for your medical expenses if you or your passengers get injured in a motor vehicle accident, regardless of who is at fault.  You or your household family members can also be covered as pedestrians who are injured by a motor vehicle.  Medical Payments coverage is particularly helpful for people who do not have medical insurance.

Uninsured/Under-Insured Motorist

Uninsured/Under-Insured Motorist Bodily Injury:  This coverage will cover you for bodily caused by another motorist who does not carry liability insurance.  It may also provide coverage when your damages exceed the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage.

Uninsured/Under-Insured Motorist Property Damage:  This coverage allows the driver to claim for compensation to damages to their vehicle.  If you have collision coverage then the Uninsured Motorist Property Damage coverage will cover the amount of your deductible.

Accident Investigation Form

We have prepared an Accident Investigation Form to help you get all the information that you may need if you are in an accident. Please print it up and keep in your car in case of an accident.

Contact Wolfberg & Wolfberg, P.C. for More Information

Please call us if you have questions about the different types of insurance coverage.  Please call us if you would like a complimentary review of your automobile insurance coverage. We are here to help.

Do You Have an Estate Plan?

If you do not have an estate plan then you are not alone.  About half of all Americans do not have any estate planning documents.

Don’t be like President Lincoln, Howard Hughes, or Sonny Bono

Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, and Ulysses S. Grant along with Howard Hughes, Jimi Hendrix, Pablo Picasso, and Sonny Bono did not have estate plans at their death, do not follow their examples. The time to prepare a California estate plan is now.

Not Having an Estate Plan Will Cost Significantly More Money

Failing to have an estate plan in place will be a very costly decision and will delay the distribution of your assets.  You have worked hard to establish your estate, you should take the time to make sure that the intended persons get what you intend for them to have.

Who do you Want to Inherit from your Estate?

If you fail to have an estate plan then you have little or no control over who will inherit from your estate.

We can Prepare your Individualized California Estate Plan

Since no two people have exactly the same wishes in deciding how to dispose of their estate, the best option is consult with an experienced attorney skilled in preparing your California estate planning documents.

Free Estate Planning Consultation

Contact us now for a free consultation and we can explain how you and your intended beneficiaries will benefit from an estate plan.  For more information, read Estate Planning Basics and review our.

We have prepared a free Introduction to Estate Planning and Checklist to assist you in preparing your California estate plan.

We are ready to prepare your California estate plan today.