How Long Does It Take To Go Through Probate?
The average time to go through probate right now in Los Angeles County is somewhere between 18 to 22 months. The first phase is one hearing in court if everything is approved the first time. To get that hearing, it generally can take anywhere from 8 to 10 weeks alone. It then takes a couple of weeks for the court to process the paperwork from that hearing. Once the paperwork is processed, it is dated and that starts a minimum time of four months for the second phase; the administrative phase. The four months is somewhat of a statute of limitations for creditors of the estate. It gives them that period of time to make a claim. Any claims not made during that period are disallowed.
Once the administration is complete, when everything has been liquidated and all the bills have been paid, at the end of that four month period or any time after there is then another hearing to request permission from the court to make distribution. That can again take another 8 to 12 weeks to get a hearing date and then if it is approved at that time, in a couple of more weeks after the paperwork is processed, distribution can be made.
What Can An Attorney Do To Expedite The Probate Process?
Attorney Cloyd Havens handles probate matters often. In doing so, he knows what the court is looking for in a probate case. This is not a clearly defined system, yet there are very explicit rules. There are different guidelines and different players who will interpret those guidelines in their own ways. Attorney Havens knows the courts and who the probate attorneys are for each court. He understands what specific things they are looking for and how to present them in a way that they will approve.
Experienced attorneys know what the courts are looking for. They know when they want it. They know all the different forms to file, the notices to give and how to report that those notices were given in a way that the court will recognize. Those are the main things having a qualified attorney can do to assist clients in a probate case.
What Are The Costs Associated With The Probate Process?
Generally there are two categories of costs associated with probate. The first category is the actual out-of-pocket expenses. Those consist of the court filing fees, appraisal fees and any real estate. In fact this would also include all property, other than cash, which must be appraised by a court appointed appraiser, called a probate referee. Notice has to be sent to this probate referee of all real estate, securities and tangible personal property that is in the estate and then they appraise it. There is a fee for that as well as for the notice and publication and potentially a bond is required for the administrator. All of that can run anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 in a typical estate. With a larger estate, that obviously would be more.
In addition to all of this, there are the attorney’s fees. Attorney’s fees are addressed in the California Probate Code. An attorney is entitled to 4% of the first $100,000 of the value of the estate, 3% of the second $100,000 and 2% of everything thereafter up to the first million dollars. Those are significant costs. The administrator of the estate, the executor, is entitled to the same fee as the attorney.
There are additional fees to liquidate securities, to sell real estate, to do any necessary repairs to real property, and those kinds of things. All of this together comprises the total fees associated with probate.
Can Someone Navigate Through The Probate Process On Their Own?
No one should try and navigate the probate process on his or her own. Attorney Cloyd Havens even has had other attorneys come to his office to handle their probate matters; not because it’s a complicated legal issue, but because there is so much procedure and knowledge required.
What Outcome Can Someone Expect Once Probate Is Complete?
At the end of probate each of the beneficiaries should receive their fair share of the decedent’s estate after, of course, all of the costs and liabilities have been paid. They should expect that they will have an opportunity to know what’s going on during the process and to be heard in court if they have a dispute with the way the process is going.
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