Under California law, probate is triggered when a deceased person dies without any Will or if such person wrote a valid Will but the value of the deceased person’s gross estate equals or exceeds the prevailing probate threshold. As of the date of this post, the current California probate threshold is $166,250. In other words, if a California resident dies leaving behind a gross estate valued at or above $166,250, such estate will go through probate regardless of whether or not the deceased person had a valid Will.
What is probate?
‘Probate’ is a court process where a judge supervises the distribution of a deceased person’s estate. The probate threshold applies to the deceased person’s ‘gross’ estate and not the ‘net’ estate, which means that such person’s debts, liabilities, taxes and expenses do not count towards reducing the value of the estate for purposes of determining whether or not probate applies. Also, the limit is based on the summation of all assets of the deceased and is not a ‘per asset’ limit.
Why should probate be avoided?