In blended families, estate preparation is always a minefield that necessitates a highly specific skill set from a trained attorney. The emotional and legal issues that blending brings up are incredibly complex, but a skilled attorney can help you see around corners and make your assets work for many families in ways you never imagined. Keep reading to learn more and contact Law Offices of Terrence Fantauzzi at (909) 552-1238 for a free consultation.
Probate for blended families: what happens if you don’t plan
Let’s begin with the worst-case scenario: there isn’t any plan at all. When someone dies without a clear estate plan in place, or if their plan has become outdated, their estate is likely to end up in probate court.
Probate is the legal process by which a judge determines how a deceased person’s assets should be dispersed. It’s a time-consuming and expensive process that all too often leads to family feuds, especially in blended families. Probate is akin to a legal hell. It can be even worse when you have a blended family—perhaps purgatory with a knife fight.
In California, the probate threshold is quite low. You could possess a one square-foot plot of property and end up in probate court if you don’t have an up-to-date estate plan that not only states who gets what when you die, but also develops a mechanism to pass it properly through a Trust. For years and years to come, your family could end up paying to battle over that square-foot of dirt.
Probate on a $2 million estate can easily cost between $75,000 and $100,000, to give you an idea of the expenditures. That money could have gone to your family, but it will now go to attorneys and the government. Probate court fees are regulated by statute, so you won’t be able to shop around or haggle them down.
Probate, on the other hand, will most certainly prevent your heirs from inheriting for several years. In California, the probate process can take up to 16 months, although we’ve seen plenty of five-year-long probate cases. When serious concerns, such as COVID-19, clog the courts, it could take even longer.
Estate planning ensures you heirs receive what you want them to receive
Taking the time to complete your trust and estate planning is important for everyone involved. Do not leave your loved ones to figure out how you would have wanted your wealth and property divided. The process of setting up a trust and/or estate planning is easier than you might think when you have the right attorney on your side. Contact Law Offices of Terrence Fantauzzi at (909) 552-1238 now to request a free legal consultation.