When a loved one in California passes away, it can be an emotionally difficult time that requires patience and rest to process all that has been lost. Unfortunately, the death of an individual comes with many legal processes that must be closed. One of these processes includes redistributing the assets and property that the deceased individual owned, which can result in probate.
Processes such as probate in California can be the last thing that a loved one of the deceased will want to deal with or even think about. Therefore, when probate cannot be avoided, it’s important to understand the factors that can go into slowing down the California probate process. By staying informed about limiting factors for probate, those who were left behind can simplify the process so that they can focus on honoring the deceased and caring for their own emotional health.
10 Factors That Can Slow Down Probate in California
If proper legal measures, such as a living trust or transfer-on-death deed, have not been established in advance of the death of a Californian, and their estate worth does not fall under a certain amount, then their estate will have to go through probate. Some commonly occurring factors that can slow down the process are the following:
- There has been a lack of estate planning. If the Californian who died did not have a proper estate plan established, it can cause their intentions to seem ambiguous. If the court cannot clearly discern what their wishes were for the division of their estate, such as who should receive the assets and how much they should receive, then this can slow down probate.
- The situation around the estate that is being divided is particularly complex. If the estate in question has arguments going on among the potential beneficiaries, this can lead to court processes that will prolong probate. Additionally, if the worth of the estate is high, then it can take longer to divide everything up.
- Creditors are claiming that the deceased owed them money. After the death of a Californian, a creditor has a specific period in which they can issue claims stating that debts are outstanding. When many creditors are involved and issuing claims, it can slow the probate process.
- The inventory and appraisal process is lengthy. Many times, especially for high-value estates in question, the inventory appraisal process can last a long time, as the estate executor must list all assets in the estate and then determine the exact value of everything.
- The court schedule is backed up. Sometimes, the California court system can experience backlogs, or a hearing can be double-booked with another appointment, which can cause delays in the probate process. If the schedule is less packed, then the probate process will go faster.
- There are complex issues with taxes. In some probate cases, the tax implications can be extremely complex. This is because there may be disputes as to how much estate tax should be paid to California, and there can also be complications with inheritance tax.
- The efficiency of the executor. The executor is critical in carrying out all the necessary processes to close out probate. If they are slow on completing tasks, such as inventory and appraisal, or if they delay submitting key documents, then this can delay the entire probate process at large.
- The requirement of waiting periods and notices for beneficiaries. Upon the death of a Californian, notices must be issued for beneficiaries, creditors, and others to give them a time limit to carry out necessary actions. These waiting periods can stall the probate process.
- The existence of beneficiaries or assets that are not located in California. If the deceased has property or assets not located in California, or their beneficiaries are located in another state than California, then this can delay the probate process due to the complexity of complying with probate laws in other states.
- The recordkeeping has not been well-managed. Upon the death of a Californian, it’s critical to have well-organized financial records and documents. If certain transactions or papers are illegible or hard to find, this can slow down probate.
In addition to these factors, there are other factors that can slow down the process in California as well, such as having a high-profile case. To streamline probate, it’s important to have a sound estate plan, a diligent executor, and a trusted probate lawyer.
Q: How Does Having Business Holdings or Real Estate Affect California Probate?
A: If the deceased individual had multiple commercial or residential real estate investments, or holdings in a company, this can complicate the probate process and, therefore, potentially cause delays. In addition to the reallocation of corporate responsibility, these assets must be listed and evaluated, which can take a lot of time.
Q: How Can I Avoid Probate in California?
A: In California, any estate that is worth more than $184,500 is subject to probate. However, there are tactics to bypass certain assets from going through probate. For example, an individual can set up certain provisions, such as:
- A living trust
- Beneficiaries for their retirement account
- Life insurance payments
- Payable-on-death accounts
These will not be subject to probate in the case of their death.
Q: How Long Does California Probate Usually Take?
A: In California, the probate process can be complex. It usually lasts from a few months to a year, depending on the factors involved in the case. For example, a high-net-worth estate with multiple disputing beneficiaries can take up to a year or longer due to court battles that may come up.
Q: Can a California House Be Sold During Probate?
A: It is legal in the state of California to make the sale of real estate during probate. However, there are certain conditions that apply. The executor of the estate must let all beneficiaries know at least 15 days before the sale occurs about the transaction, and there can be no objections.
Work With Our California Probate Law Team Today
Working with an experienced California probate lawyer can help save families from confusion and frustration during the probate process. At the Law Office of Christopher P. Walker, P.C., we can help you with your California estate planning or probate problems and questions. Contact our legal team today to discuss the specifics of your case.