Probate is the court-supervised process for the payment of creditors and the transfer of property and assets upon the death of an individual.
A probate is usually required in instances where an individual dies without an estate plan in place. In such cases, the State of California will impose a state-structured plan for distribution of such individual’s assets, also known as the laws of intestacy, which will funnel first through the immediate family of the individual and then out through the branches of the family tree.
A probate is also required in instances where an individual dies with a Will as the centerpiece of their estate plan. In such circumstances, an order from a probate court will be necessary for an executor or personal representative to have the authority to manage the collection of assets, the payment of bills and expenses, and the later distribution of the estate pursuant to the terms of the Will or Last Will & Testament.
Unfortunately, probate can be a drawn out, expensive and public process for the distribution of an estate. The case will be governed by a court calendar, and backups in the court system may result in backups in the resolution of the estate. The legal fees and executor fees associated with a probate are governed by California law and are a percentage of the gross value of the estate (not the net value). Additionally, most documents filed with the court are public record and there is little to no privacy available throughout the probate process for the estate or the individuals involved with the estate.
At Coggins Legal, we will walk you through a court-supervised probate and endeavor to make the process as hassle free as possible.
Estate planning is the process of designing and executing documents necessary to outline your wishes in the event of incapacity or death, as well as identifying trusted individuals to carry out those wishes when necessary. Many factors are considered during the planning and design process, all of which will dictate the right plan for you. Additionally, there are numerous documents that may go into completing a comprehensive estate plan, including:
Statutory Power of Attorney for Finances
Durable Power of Attorney for Finances
Advance Health Care Directive (also referred to as a Power of Attorney for Health Care)
Choosing which documents to use and which planning strategy to implement will depend entirely upon your individual circumstances. A plan that is right for one family will not necessarily be right for everyone. At Coggins Legal we strive to ensure every individual’s specific goals and needs are considered during the design process. In doing so, we can help you in the creation of a truly customized and comprehensive estate plan that is right for you, your family, and your future.
Administration of a trust is the process of carrying out the wishes of the trust maker(s) through the management of trust property, the payment of debts and expenses, and the distribution of assets to beneficiaries. This process may be necessary during times of incapacity of the trust maker(s), and after the death of the trust maker(s).
Because a trust is effective upon signing, an administration may commence immediately upon the occurrence of incapacity or death. This allows the process to be private and prompt in circumstances where the estate is simple and the interested persons all get along, and can help to minimize pubic exposure and cost where the estate is more complex.
It is strongly recommended that a trustee seek legal assistance or advice during an administration, due to the obligations and duties imposed on the trustee by the California Probate Code. However, legal assistance may also be needed at times by a beneficiary or other interested person. In all cases, Coggins Legal is available to help you through the administration process and provide you with the legal support and guidance you may require.