The word “probate” has earned a negative connotation in modern parlance. Although most people are not sure what it means, they usually know that they wish to avoid it. The meaning is relatively straight forward: when we are hired to handle a probate, we assist individuals with the transfer of assets from the dead to the living by court order. Under California law, if a person dies owning assets with a gross value of $150,000 or more at the time of death, then, unless their assets were vested in a trust or another exception applies, it becomes necessary to commence probate proceedings in the Superior Court to transfer those assets to their heirs and/or beneficiaries, regardless of whether a valid will exists. In fact, even if the value of the deceased persons assets is less than $150,000, it may not be possible to transfer those assets without a court order.

Is having to go through probate THAT bad? The short answer is: it depends. It depends on what you consider to be “bad.” What we are certain of is that it is always easier when you have good lawyer. At the Law Office of Mario A. Pacione, we love probates. We work on probates, read about probates and discuss probates among ourselves every day. We know the probate process like the back of our hand and would be delighted to handle your probate matter, no matter how big or small, as long as we have capacity to take on a new case.

So why do most people regard probates as unwelcome? Most likely because if given a choice to resolve a matter by going to court versus not going to court, the latter will be the preferred method for the average, well adjusted and mentally healthy individual.

The most common complaints we have noted about participating in the probate process are:

(1) The invasion of privacy. Probates are all matters of public record once filed with the court. Marketing companies love probates because they can legally obtain names, contact information, as well as information about how much money people stand to receive. Additionally, initial probate notices are published in newspapers of general circulation, which can invited extended and long-lost family members to attempt unwanted “reconnection.”

(2) The cost. Probate proceedings typically require the payment of fees that may not be required in non court-supervised administrations. These include filing fees, appraisal fees, publication costs and bond premiums. Additionally, the attorney’s fees for what the California Probate Code counts as “ordinary services” are directly in proportion to the GROSS value of the estate. Currently, the fees four percent (4%) of the first $100,000.00 of the gross value of the estate, three percent (3%) of the second hundred thousand of the gross value of the estate, two percent (2%) of the next $800,000.00 of the gross value of the estate, one percent (1%) of the the next $9,000,000.00 of the gross value of the estate, etc. While administrations that do not require the probate court can be costly as well, the probate fees are not based on the level of complexity. So, the attorney’s fees for the probate of $2 million dollar estate will be $33,000.00, even if it all consisted of cash in the bank that was being transferred to one person without any objection.

(3) The bureaucracy. This one does not need a lengthy explanation. Regardless of how an individual’s personal politics are aligned, most people prefer NOT to have the government involved in their personal affairs. Court proceedings are notoriously slow and many times contradictory to pragmatism and plain old common sense.
If you are faced with a situation where a probate proceeding may be required, please call us to schedule a consultation and assess your options. We promise to deliver no-nonsense answers and guidance to facilitate an informed decision on how to proceed. And should you choose to join our family of existing clients by retaining us to represent you, you can rest assured that a team of well trained and capable legal professionals, including Attorney Mario A. Pacione, will personally attend to your probate matter every step of the way while protecting you from exposure to liability.


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Playa Del Rey, CA 90293


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