In cases where there is a will but no trust or where the decedent dies with no estate planning documents, the deceased person’s estate must pass through the court-supervised probate process.
You should never have to pay from your pocket to probate an estate. The money should come from the estate. Even if you do pay from your pocket (e.g., to continue making mortgage payments while waiting for authority to act as executor), you will be entitled to reimbursement from the probate estate for such payments. Here some further considerations regarding the cost to probate an estate in California.
Is there cash in the estate?
In some cases, especially in California, an estate consists of a high value house, but not much else. What do you do if this is the case and you need to pay for the administration of an estate? There are several options for paying estate administration expenses such as, court costs, attorney fees, and mortgage payments. The estate generally has two viable options to get cash to either pay the costs of administration or to reimburse people who put up their own funds to pay for estate administration expenses. The first option is to get a loan from a so-called “hard money lender.” The second option is to sell estate property during the probate process.
Hard money lenders.
A hard money lender is a private lender who funds estates in need of cash. If the estate has real property, the hard money lender will loan cash to the estate (usually at a high interest rate) secured by the real property. If the real property is sold during the probate process, the hard money lender will be paid back out of the sale of the property. And if the property is not sold out of the probate, the person or people who inherit the real property can refinance the hard money loan and pay back the hard money lender with the new loan proceeds.
Selling estate assets.
The executor or administrator has the right to sell estate assets in order to obtain cash. This includes selling a house, stocks, cars, or anything of value in the probate estate. Depending on the powers an executor has, there are rules for how the sale of estate assets must be handled.
Probate is complicated process, even with the simplest of estates. Knowing your legal options can help you manage the cost of probating your California estate and ensure that you pass down a significant amount of your assets to your loved ones.