Regardless of where you live, you should have several basic estate planning documents in place: a will, a durable power of attorney for finances, and a medical directive. If you live in California, a prosperous state with sky-high real estate values in its urban areas, it is an especially good idea to also think about planning to avoid probate after your death – with a living trust.
California has an unusual system of compensating probate lawyers. Unlike most states, California law sets a standard probate fee for attorneys based on a percentage of the gross value of the assets that go through probate (collectively known as the “probate estate”). The personal representative of the estate receives the same fee. California Probate Code sections 10810 and 10811 set out the percentages:
- 4% of the first $100,000 of the gross value of the probate estate
- 3% of the next $100,000
- 2% of the next $800,000
- 1% of the next $9 million
This means an estate of $200,000 will have to pay $7,000 to the attorney and $7,000 to the personal representative through probate. An estate of $1,000,000 will pay $23,000 to the attorney and $23,000 to the personal representative.
These fees may be avoided, and your assets will be distributed much more quickly without the burden of a court overseen probate, through simple estate planning and a living trust.
A comprehensive estate plan with VITTAS LAW includes:
- Living Trust
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Advance Health Care Directive
- Certificate of Trust
- Estate Tax consultation
Benefits of having an estate plan in place include:
- COST ($1,000 – $2,000 for comprehensive estate plan rather than thousands in probate fees)
- Peace of Mind
- Faster Distribution
- Privacy (everything filed in probate court is public record – including an inventory of all your assets and a list of all creditors)
- Minimum Estate Tax Liability