Is A Probate Proceeding ever a Good Idea?
In most cases, in the State of California, the answer is a resounding NO.
In a very small number of cases, however, a Probate Court proceeding might be required or advisable, even if the decedent has a Trust.
For example, if a major asset (e.g., the family home) was never transferred into the Trust, you might have to file "Heggstad" petition to obtain an order transferring the property to the Trust. This is the most common circumstance in which proceeding in the Probate Court is required. However, a "Heggstad" petition is usually granted very quickly, at a relatively reasonable cost.
There are a few other circumstances in which some sort of a proceeding should be filed in the Probate Court.
For example, it might be better to initiate a probate proceeding if:
(1) there is a dispute about title or ownership an asset in which the decedent claims an interest or
(2) there is a significant claim against the Estate which
(a) should be resolved by a Court; or
(b) a very substantial creditor might not yet be prepared to litigate; by filing a Petition for Probate, then sending out a Notice, you can provide this type of creditor with a very short time frame (four months) to decide whether to proceed with the claim.
If you are a Trustee of a Trust, you should carefully discuss this option with a qualified Estate Planning or Probate attorney.
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