Do you need legal advice? We started a new section in our paper where legal professionals answer your questions – the law abiding.
Ajalat and Ajalat, LLP is a full-service law firm located in North Hollywood. Ajalat and Ajalat, LLP has over a century of combined experience and can answer questions in almost every area of law. So if you’ve got a quandary for the pros send it over to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (818) 762-2171. Here’s a question from one of our readers:
QUESTION: Approximately how much does a will cost? People tell me I need a probate — do I?
ANSWER: The cost of a will-based estate plan starts at a few hundred dollars and can go much, much higher depending greatly on the size and complexity of your estate and what you wish to do with it. With a will-based plan, when you pass away, the will is submitted to the court to be “probated.” A “probate” is the court-supervised proceeding for administering a person’s assets and debts following their death. During a probate, all of the decedent’s debts (e.g., bills, credit cards, loans, taxes, etc.) will be paid or settled. A decedent’s remaining assets are then formally transferred to any beneficiaries designated in a will or, if there is no will, to decedent’s legal heirs by intestate succession (default laws that dictate who will receive the assets of a deceased person).
Do you need a probate? While probate is an effective method to administer a deceased person’s assets, it is costly and time-consuming. Further, most people do not like the idea of their estates being overseen in a public forum via the court-system and a disinterested judge. Because of this, the trend for the past several decades has been to avoid probate whenever possible. The easiest way to do so is by having a trust-based estate plan, instead of a will-based estate plan. A trust-based estate plan has many benefits that a will-based estate plan does not, such as no court involvement, private administration, potential tax savings, and typically less cost in terms of time and money. In addition, with a trust-based estate plan, the trustors can dictate a staggered distribution pattern to beneficiaries. That is, the inheritance will not be paid outright and in full, but will be paid at pre-determined intervals (i.e., 10% upon graduation from college, 25% at age 30, 50% at age 35, etc.).
The information contained herein is not, nor is it intended to be, specific legal advice and although deemed to be accurate, you should not rely on it without consulting an attorney.