If a person dies with over $150,000 in his or her “estate,” i.e., outside a revocable living trust and without named beneficiaries, that person’s estate needs to go through a California court process called “probate.” The court will name an administrator or executor (if the deceased person had a will), and the deceased person’s assets will be distributed according to the terms of the will or the California Probate Code.

This process can take many months, and documents filed with the court can be viewed by the public. The statutory fees for this process are established in the Probate Code; they typically end up totaling about 3% of the total estate.

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