How to Save Time and Money When a Spouse Dies in California

Share Article

The Riverside law firm of Albertson & Davidson, LLP recently held a discussion with clients and friends of the firm to educate them on the various options spouses have to avoid probate in California.

It is surprising to me how many people believe that assets must be probated before passing to a surviving spouse

The Riverside law firm of Albertson & Davidson, LLP recently held a discussion with clients and friends of the firm to educate them on the various options spouses have to avoid probate in California. Probate is a court process that assets of a decedent must pass through before being distributed to his heirs or beneficiaries under a Will. Whenever a person dies with or without a Will, any assets held in their individual names are subject to the probate procedure.

“It is surprising to me how many people believe that assets must be probated before passing to a surviving spouse” says named partner Keith A. Davidson. “There are other methods that can be used, including a Spousal Property Petition to allow assets to pass to a spouse without having to engage in a full-blown probate.” According to Davidson, the “Spousal Property Petition” is a summary filing that takes far less time and effort to complete than a regular probate procedure.

The petition is not only a time saver, it can also substantially reduce the costs of transferring assets to the surviving spouse. “The fees in probate are set by statute and are based on a percentage of the estate value” explains partner Stewart R. Albertson. “For example, the statutory fee for an estate valued at $500,000 is $13,000 for the attorneys and another $13,000 for the executor, for a total fee of $26,000.” The fee increases with the amount of the estate, explains Albertson, so an estate valued at $1 million would have fees double this amount, or $54,000.

“These fees can be reduced to around $5,000 to prepare and file a Spousal Property Petition, that’s a reduction in fees of $21,000—a real money saver” says Albertson. Unfortunately, few people are aware of the Spouse Property Petition option when a spouse dies. As a result, many spouses are forced to engage the probate process never knowing they could save themselves both time and money (substantial money) with the petition.

“Of course, probate only applies if a spouse failed to prepare a proper estate plan that includes a Trust” says Davidson. “And many people don’t understand that a Will must pass through probate just like someone dying without a Will does. It is the Trust that makes the difference so that probate can be avoided altogether.” However, if probate is a must because a Trust was not used, then at least with spouses there is an easier and less costly alternative by using the spousal petition.

Albertson & Davidson, LLP are lawyers who believe in helping people resolve problems, thinking differently to resolve those problems and fighting for fairness and justice. They are experienced Trust, Estate and Probate litigators. Albertson & Davidson, LLP has two offices in Riverside County—Riverside and Temecula—and can be reached at (951) 686-5296, on the web at http://www.aldavlaw.com, and at their blog: http://www.CaliforniaTrustEstateandProbateLitigation.com.

###

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Keith A. Davidson

Stewart R. Albertson
Visit website