What is Probate?
Nobody voluntarily chooses probate. People are too busy or preoccupied with health or other issues to plan. They pass away without a living trust and their heirs----usually their children---- find that they canít sell Mom or Dadís house without a court order or canít transfer Mom or Dadís bank account without court approval. Even with a will, they may be forced to file a probate proceeding.
Alternatives to Probate
Because probate is expensive and time consuming, a responsible attorney first tries to determine if there is an alternative to probate. In California, most common alternatives to probate are a Spousal Property Petition (if there is a surviving spouse) or a small estate transfer (if value of estate is less than $100,000). If these and other alternatives to probate are unavailable, then only recourse for decedentís heirs is to file a probate proceeding.