Recent Comments


    Plan to Avoid Probate

    By Jay Greene, Esq., CPA–

    What Is Probate?

    You’ve probably heard about probate, but do you know what it is? Probate is the legal procedure that occurs when someone dies so their assets can be evaluated by a court and then distributed accordingly. This process can take up to nine months or longer, and will cost at least 3–6% of the total value from the estate. Probate often takes more time than anticipated, and it causes unnecessary emotional and financial stress for the family members of the decedent.

    The Probate Process

    The last thing most people want to do is interact with a court after a loved one has passed away. Unfortunately, the courts will have to be involved, and there are many steps required to complete a probate:

    1. Confirm if the decedent has a Will.

    2. Order the original death certificate. The original death certificate, or a copy of the death certificate, will be required at most banks and other organizations.

    3. File a petition in probate court. Once filed, the court should appoint the executor named in the Will. If there is no Will, the court will appoint an administrator to distribute the estate.

    4. Locate the decedent’s assets. Assets can include different types of bank accounts, real property, safe deposit boxes, vehicles, jewelry, etc. Tracking down all these assets can take months if it is not clear what the decedent owned.

    5. Verify and pay all outstanding creditor claims filed during the probate. Also pay the decedent’s outstanding taxes from the last tax year they lived through.

    6. The executor/administrator may now distribute the remaining assets to the heirs and/or beneficiaries once all liabilities have been paid.

    7. Complete an accounting of the estate. This will need to be approved by probate court as well. Once approved, the court will close the file and the probate will be finished.

    As you can see, there are many steps that need to be followed, and this is just the standard procedure. It is common that a person’s probated estate will present challenges and obstacles that make probate even more of a headache. 

    How to Avoid Probate

    Yes, probate can be avoided, and it is not as difficult as you may expect. Creating a plan for your future is the best way to ensure your assets and loved ones are planned for. Our firm specializes in Trust planning. Trusts allow you full control over who gets your stuff, when they get your stuff, and how they get your stuff. The best part is Trusts allow you to avoid probate entirely. If you want an effective plan, then creating a Trust is your best option.

    Do you want to learn more about Trusts and avoiding probate? Please reach out to our office so you can start planning for your future!

    Statements In Compliance with California Rules of Professional Conduct: The materials in this article have been prepared by Jay Greene for educational purposes only and are not legal advice. This information does not create an attorney-client relationship. Individuals should consult with an estate planning and elder law attorney for up-to-date information for their individual plans.

    Jay Greene, Esq., CPA, is the founder of Greene Estate, Probate & Elder Law Firm based in San Francisco, and is focused on helping LGBT individuals, couples, and families plan for their future, protect their assets, and preserve their wealth. To learn more and to schedule an appointment, visit

    Published on May 5, 2022