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 this post series, we are looking at several misconceptions regarding wills.  Wills have been around seemingly forever, and it’s the document most people think of when they begin to think about planning for the future.  But how effective are they?

Myth No. 3 Your heirs will automatically get your estate because you have them in the will

Just because you have a will, your heirs do not automatically get your estate; they must go through probate.  And probate = time + money.

Probate can be time consuming

A will has to be submitted to the court by your executor.  The court then has a number of requirements that your executor has to meet before any distribution can be made.  Your executor will have to notify creditors and other interested parties.  Anyone can step forward and submit a claim against the estate, or challenge the planned distribution.  Each step of the way, your executor will have to carefully meet the exact requirements of the California Probate Code.  Only after all the mandatory notices have gone out, and the minimum waiting period for creditors to submit claims can the court allow your executor to distribute the estate.

Probate can be expensive

There are mandatory costs – court filing fees, publication notices, etc.  Then there are the typical costs awarded to your executor, and if your executor needs legal assistance, attorney costs.   These fees are based off the gross value of your estate, and can be as upwards of 16% and in some cases even more.

Bottom line:  an estate plan can avoid the time and expense of probate.  Are you prepared?