Death and Taxes are the only sure things in life that we all know are inevitable.
There are laws that the government, through our elected representatives, has passed providing for taxes to be assessed on certain Estates of deceased people. The government will want to confirm what is “Owed in Taxes” and then collect the taxes due prior to heirs receiving their inheritance. There are a number of exceptions such as the size of the estate and legal form of ownership prior to the death of the decedent.
When someone dies in California there is a process known as Probate. Simply put, Probate is the process of distributing the assets and paying the debts of the deceased person according to their request, such as is instructed by the Decedent in their Last Will and Testament. Or if someone died and did not have a will (also known as a “Dying Intestate”) the court will then make a determination as to who gets what under the theory of law known as the “Process of Intestate Succession”.
So often the Executor or Administrator of an Estate will need to petition the court to inform the court as to who receives what. At the same time, a dance with the tax man occurs as to what the value of the Estate is or what the value of certain assets are and if there is what’s known as a “Taxable Event” – on other words, the tax man will calculate the taxes due the government.
As part of an overall Estate planning process, everyone who has an Estate valued at a minimum of $100,000.00 needs to obtain legal advice as to what the correct Estate structure should be. The right choices and decisions made prior to death can lead to a substantial savings in aggravation and taxes at a very difficult and trying time for all involved.