Santa Cruz Estate Planning Attorney


A person's estate is generally subject to probate in two instances. First if they die intestate, which means without a will or living trust in place. The second is if they die with a will in place. Probate is generally not the preferred way to administer an estate, so it is important to see if any exemptions apply. If an estate qualifies as a Small Estate or Spousal Property Petition, then it may be possible to avoid probate.

What is a Small Estate? Generally if an estate is worth under $100,000 then it can avoid probate and just be distributed.

What is s Spousal Property Petition? A Spousal Property Petition allows a surviving spouse to transfer any property left them without probate.

If neither of these exemptions are available then the estate will need to go through probate.

How does Probate work?

Probate begins with the filing of a probate action with the court. Then the executor or administer will take the appropriate actions to distribute the assets. This includes collecting and managing assets, getting property appraised, file tax returns, notifying creditors and notifying potential heirs.

Cost and time are the most common disadvantages of probate. If everything goes smoothly it will still take 6-8 months to complete a probate proceeding and attorneys fees are set by a statutory scheme.

These are approximate attorney's fees based on the size of the estate.

Estate Value Statutory Attorney's Fees
$100,000 $4,000
$200,000 $7,000
$500,000 $13,000
$1,000,000 $23,000
$1,500,000 $28,000
$2,000,000 $28,000
$5,000,000 $63,000
$10,000,000 $113,000

We can help you file your probate proceeding and manage the process. It can be an overwhelming process for an executor, especially if they already have a job or family to manage.