Probate can be Longer and More Expensive than You Think: a Warning from Probate Attorneys in Orange County

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9th Jan 2013

The length of time it takes for an estate to undergo probate in Orange County varies from case to case.  Barring hitches, it may be closed in 8 to 12 months.   You would be fortunate if your probate went that fast.  Generally, this process can take from 15 to 18 months.   If the estate has legal problems, the process may take longer. 
The phase of this process that makes the procedure take so long is the mandatory four-month waiting period for all creditors to file their claims.   The period begins from the time the court appoints an executor.   During this period, the beneficiaries of the decedent are advised to consult an experienced Orange County probate  attorney. With expert legal help, the beneficiaries can be apprised to observe proper probate procedures and, in so doing, the beneficiaries of the estate are protected from the decedent’s creditors.
Besides the waiting period, other reasons why an estate cannot be closed as fast as it should may include any of the following: 
·         Insufficient cash to pay off creditors.   Such a situation would often require selling off properties in order to obtain cash.  In a slow real estate market, this problem can make the process protracted;
·         Contesting heirs.  Some heirs may contest the will and may want a bigger share of the estate.  Some others may claim to be legitimate heirs and will feel they were omitted from the inheritance.  In Orange County, an estate planning attorney can assist your heirs in their court cases;    
·         Inability to locate all of the heirs.  The court has to establish that all heirs have received their share to their satisfaction before it can close the probate;
·         Other existing lawsuits that the decedent may be involved in.  These can drag the probate process indefinitely.    

These hassles highlight the term “waiting period.”   Indeed, the heirs of the decedent may be waiting months – or even years – to get a share of their beloved uncle’s or grandfather’s inheritance.
                While the probate clock is ticking, so to speak, the beneficiaries have to court the expenses. While the cost of this will be shouldered by the estate, it will still represent a diminution of what the heirs may receive.  The items involved in factoring the costs are the fees for the executor and the attorney he or she commissions for the undertaking, court filing fees, property appraisal fees, and premium for payment for placement of death notices in newspapers.  These range from around $750,000 to 1,000,000.
                Even if the estate is substantial and liquid enough to absorb that expense, it is a considerable amount off the inheritance of one’s heirs. .  Had the estate not gone through probate, the heirs need not wait that long and the value of the estate need not have been diminished with all the expense.  An experienced estate planning attorney in Orange County can advise you on ways to avoid probate.

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