Does a Simple Estate Need a Will?
If you own real estate in California, you will probably save hundreds or thousands of dollars (that could go to your family) by paying a lawyer to write your will. Most people don’t have to worry about any kind of estate tax. However, probate fees in California can easily eat up a measurable amount of money.
Even if you still owe money on your mortgage, if you have more than $100,000 in equity, you should hire an attorney to write a will for you. For example, if you bought your home for $90,000 in 1995, you still have a significant portion of the mortgage to pay off. However, that house you bought 20 years ago, is now worth $300,000 because of steep increases in real estate values. The California probate courts will see that you have at least $210,000 in home equity.
If you don’t have a will, the probate court will charge a 4% fee for processing your estate. On $210,000, the fee will be $8,400. Hiring a lawyer to write a basic estate plan will cost you significantly less than $8,400 — therefore allowing you to pass more money along to your beneficiaries.
Of course, home equity is just one piece of your total estate’s value. Bank accounts, retirement funds, and personal possessions all add into the value of your estate. Don’t hand over thousands of dollars to the state when you can avoid those significant fees with a simple will.