Why would anyone desire to go through a probate in California? Estate planning attorneys work hard to do all they can to help clients avoid probate. Even though the disadvantages to probate provide good reasons to want to avoid it, there are nevertheless some benefits to probate to consider.
Court supervision. The executor’s or administrator’s actions are subject to court supervision and that person must account to the court for his/her actions. Non-probate estates do not have this safeguard. In some cases, court supervision is the best way to protect the interests of everyone concerned, especially if there are unhappy heirs who want to challenge the will.
Formal proceedings. A formal probate will help to assure that everything that ought to be done gets done and that the estate is properly settled. Informal estate settlement can leave matters unfinished and problems can arise years later.
Automatic creditor claims cutoff. A probate requires notice be sent to all known creditors. If those creditors don’t file a formal claim against the estate, their claims will be forever barred after the passage of the 120-day creditor claims period. Once the creditor claims period has passed, the law protects the estate from future liability for those past claims. The executor must exercise caution in paying bills that are not legally enforceable. The heirs could challenge the executor’s right to use their inheritance to pay creditors if claims are not filed properly and in a timely manner.
Court-ordered transfers of assets. A probate proceeding will result in a court order stating who is to receive what from the estate and authorizing the executor/administrator to transfer the assets to the proper persons. In some cases (non-probate situations), the lack of a court order can create problems or delays in getting the assets transferred to the proper persons.