Probate Case Study: Dad Dies At 52, Leaving 1.2M Estate and No Will

Three young people, Bruce, Becky, and Bryce came in to our Walnut Creek office for assistance with a Probate. Their father, just 52, had died unexpectedly of a heart attack in November. They’d all been close to their father, who had single-handedly raised them after their mother died. He had always been healthy and active, so his death had stunned them. He didn’t have a Will or Living Trust, so they were now faced with what they knew was going to be the long, confusing Probate of their father’s estate.

Their father was a 50% owner of three homes—one in Concord, one in Tahoe, and one in San Francisco. The home in Concord was 50% owned by their grandmother. That 50% ownership required its own Probate, and the 50% would be divided equally between their deceased father and his brother, their uncle.

We started with Grandma’s Probate

We opened the grandmother’s Probate case first; valued at $600,000, their father’s half was worth $300,000. The three young people and their uncle had a good relationship, so the uncle agreed to be the administrator of this estate. Within ten days, we had prepared and filed the legal documents and scheduled the court hearing. We also placed newspaper notifications for both estates, a necessary part of every Probate. (Another very good reason for creating a Living Trust is that the estate remains a private affair; a Probate becomes public knowledge.)

The father’s Probate was opened one week later

Their father’s estate included $300,000 from the Concord home, $400,000 from the Tahoe home and $500,000 from the house in San Francisco—a total of $1,200,000. Bruce, the oldest of the siblings and an engineer, was elected to be the administrator of their father’s estate.

  • Within ten weeks of our initial meeting, we had completed Letters of Administration for both Probates.
  • The next steps included completing the inventory and appraisal by the court-appointed Probate referee and filing legal documents with the state.
  • We filed for the final distribution of both estates four months after the Letters of Administration were issued; we had a final court hearing eight months after we began working with the three siblings.

In conclusion

  • Our fee for the grandmother’s probate was 1% of the value of the estate, or $3,000.
  • Our fee for this second Probate was $6,000. While the estate was valued at $1,200,000, and our fee is 1% of the total value of the estate, we cap this at $6,000.
  • Each Probate took approximately nine months. Probate is never easy. It’s always based on unfortunate circumstances and it’s badly timed—after the death of a loved one. It’s expensive and time-consuming. We were able to move both of these Probate cases along smoothly to their conclusions, yet the process still took nine months. If there are complications, complexities such as out-of-state property, it can take much longer.

The story of Bruce, Becky and Bryce: a compelling reason to create a Living Trust

A Living Trust means that your children will not have to go through Probate, and the details of your estate can remain private, rather than being published in the local newspaper.

Call California Document Preparers today at one of our three Bay Area offices to schedule an appointment. We’re helpful, compassionate, affordable.