A Revocable Trust Can Avoid Probate
Probate is the court process of dealing with property and debts that remain after someone passes away. The Superior Courts of California oversee this process, ensuring that documents are valid, debts are paid and property is transferred to the rightful recipients. The system works, but suffers from three significant (and mostly unavoidable) detriments. First, it is a slow process. There are timelines built into the law, and delays in the processes of many counties, that make it virtually impossible to wind up the affairs of an estate in less than a year. Second, it is an expensive process. The filing fees, publication fees and appraisal fees can quickly add up to thousands of dollars, and the complexity of the court proceedings makes it difficult to complete the administration of the estate without an attorney, which can add many more thousands of dollars to the cost. And, third, everything in a court proceeding is public record. The value of the estate and everything in it, who inherits or does not inherit, and what everyone received and its value are all right in the court file, which anyone has the right to go to the courthouse and view. All your financial affairs that you have kept private your whole life are available to whoever wants to see them. That is not just distasteful; it can lead to unwanted interference or contact for those who receive from your estate.
A Revocable Trust is administered privately. The information is shared with only those who have a legal right to know. In almost all cases, the cost of administration is vastly less, and even where assisted by an attorney, the fees for that are usually a fraction of what they would be in a formal probate. And, the process can be completed in far shorter time than a probate. While sometimes the administration of a trust can also drag out, in many cases the process can be completed quickly and expeditiously. In some, it is possible to finish the administration of a trust in less time than it would take to get a court hearing to even start a probate proceeding.