On the lowest level, meaning a very simple estate, the person would be talking about 4 to 6 months. The average here in California is 18 to 24 months. Many of them can go well beyond that because some things might be difficult and there could also be family challenges or squabbles over the type of distribution occurring and the percentages.
Where Is Probate Actually Filed?
Probate is filed in the local jurisdiction of the deceased. Here in California, if the person passed away in the city of Los Angeles, the probate would be filed within the Los Angeles Court Judicial System, or if they passed away in Orange County, then the probate would be filed in the local court nearest to where the deceased passed away.
How Much Does Probate Actually Cost?
The cost of probate is a sliding scale between 4 and 10 percent, which is set by the statute. There would be the ordinary fees but there would then also be extraordinary fees which would include fees for travel and any kind of expense that was considered reasonable that could be sold on the court. A lot of times that might be for other professionals, appraisers, financial planners, CPAs, tax advisors, or a number of other people who might be required in order to provide enough information to process everything through the court system.
If the estate was worth $500,000 gross, that would be before we reduced it by any mortgage or any other liens against the estate. The typical fee on that would be $26,000 and above.
Why Are There So Many Horror Stories About The Probate Process?
The horror stories about the probate process are probably because it takes very long. Someone would have to be appointed as an administrator if there was no will, whereas if there was a will, someone would have to be validated and verified as the executor. Sometimes these people would be placed in those positions and would be told they could not distribute for one year, which would give creditors the opportunity to make claims against the estate.
As a result of that, other family members would sometimes think these people were holding out and not delivering the money right away, which is something that causes tension within the family and then it is just the pure wait.
The wait for a probate, even if it went quickly, would be several months. If we just filed in court here in the month of September and we could not get on the docket in Los Angeles until May of 2016, then that gives an idea about how much of a headache the delay would be and then once we finally got to court, there might be family squabbling, people thinking there were ulterior motives. There is also the time, costs, delay, and then probate going on the public record.
We often find that after a year these records go into the courthouse and they become available to anybody who wanted to grab them under the Freedom of Information Act, which causes marketing and intrusion into people's privacy concerns.
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