Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) has introduced legislation to streamline court proceedings when addressing the disposition of the assets of someone who has died. The legislation, SB 155, would save time and money for the bereaved and taxpayers, according to Hertzberg.
“Full probate court proceedings can be a long and arduous process that runs up a family’s attorney fees, incurs unnecessary court costs and prolongs how and when a family can reach closure,” Hertzberg said. “Even simple wills often are forced to go through long probate proceedings that are an unnecessary burden on California families.”
As introduced, SB 155 would simplify required legal procedures for “pour-over wills,” in which assets to be transferred, as well as beneficiaries, are specified within well-defined legal parameters. Specifically, a “pour-over will” directs that assets in a decedent’s estate be distributed upon death to a revocable trust that was established by the decedent while he or she was alive. Under current law, a full probate administration is required if the total value of the decedent’s assets exceeds $150,000, even if those assets simply change over to the decedent’s revocable trust. The beneficiaries are subject to the cost and delay of a full probate administration, and the court has to use resources to oversee an often-lengthy process, Hertzberg added.
According to the Judicial Council of California, the rate at which probate cases filed in 2013 were disposed of was less than 70 percent.
“Clearly there is a greater demand for California probate court resources than can be met,” Hertzberg said. “Providing a safe and speedy method to handle routine cases involving typical pour-over wills will reduce the workload on our overburdened courts. At the same time, it’ll reduce unnecessary stress placed on family members and friends who have already suffered enough.”
SB 155 is sponsored by the State Bar of California, Trusts and Estates Section. An initial policy hearing on SB 155 has not yet been scheduled.
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