In California, probate can last as little as nine months. But most of the time, your estate can be tied up in probate for years. What takes so long? And what can you do to avoid probate?

A comprehensive estate plan will eliminate the need for probate. When your assets are set up in a trust, the funds and assets will continue as if the death did not occur. If applicable, the trust will have specific instructions for paying off debt and liquidating assets. The trust will also have instructions to disperse funds to the correct beneficiaries according to the grantor’s judgment.

Why Does Probate Take So Long?

Probate does not start until after the funeral of your loved one is over. At that point, the legal proceedings begin. Here are some steps that are included in the probate process:

  • Locating the Will: If the person dies without a will, the process will take much longer as the court finds the legal beneficiaries and sifts through disputes.
  • Tracking Down All Assets: It takes time for the court to find all assets that belonged to the person, including businesses, properties, bank accounts, and cash.
  • Providing the death certificate: The death certificate takes time to process and must be presented as part of the proceedings.
  • Paying Off All Debts: All debts must be paid using the available funds before tallying up the assets. This includes loans, credit cards, and personal creditors.
  • Finding All Beneficiaries: The beneficiaries must be tracked down to distribute the funds properly. Some beneficiaries may decline the gift or argue that it should be larger.
  • Giving Due Diligence to Any Disputes: Family and beneficiaries have a right to dispute the will, calling out grounds for coercion or out-of-date instructions. The court will hear each argument and take it very seriously before closing the case.

While the probate court sifts through all these steps, families must wait to receive their distributions. It can be a frustrating and seemingly tedious process. You can avoid probate by being prepared with an estate plan that details all your assets and steps it takes to handle business after your death.

Minimize Probate by Working with a Trusted Team

Prepare for death with estate planning so that your assets do not go into probate, leaving your family and friends without financial security. Shoup Legal can help you create a comprehensive estate plan. Contact our team by calling (951) 445-4114 or emailing [email protected] to get started.