California probate begins when a petition is filed with a California court, usually by the person or institution named in the decedent’s Will to be the executor of the estate. After notice is given, and a hearing is held, and the decedent’s Will is admitted to the probate court and an executor is appointed. Before any property can be distributed, Probate Fees must be paid to the Probate Court – probate fees apply to any estate that is valued at over $100,000.00. The probate process, even on a fairly simple, uncontested estate, can take anywhere from one to two years.
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Probate Tax Filing
Probate tax filing is required when a decadent’s estate is probated. The administrator of an estate must obtain an Employer Identification Number which identifies the person administrating the estate and which will eventually describe the property include in a decedent’s estate.
The Probate Process is a Court supervised process that provides for:
- An orderly transfer of tile for the decedent’s property.
- Ensures that creditors receive notice, an opportunity to present their claims and payment on their claims.
- Extinguishes claims by any creditor who does not present their claims.
- Insures that the decedent’s property is properly distributed.
- Make distribution according to the decedent’s Will or under intestacy law
Cost of Probate
Probating a typical estate is a costly process that ties up the decedent’s probate assets during the process. The process is costly due to probate court fees, personal representative fees, attorney’s fees, and miscellaneous other fees that may be applicable.
A California Estate Tax Return, Form ET-1, must be filed by the Executor of an estate in California if the estate is required to file a federal estate tax return. The required Internal Revenue Service tax form is form 706.
Assets that are devised to either your spouse, who is a US citizen, or to charitable organizations by your Will are not subject to estate taxes. Assets passing to other individuals will be taxed if the net value of those assets exceed the current amount set by California statue. Under current law, that amount will increase to $1,000,000 in 2006. For estates which approach or exceed this value, significant estate taxes can be saved by proper estate planning.
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