There are a couple of new Probate Law changes this year:

The threshold for file a probate went up from $100,000 to $150,000 pursuant to California Probate Coded section 13000. This amount does not include bank accounts held in joint tenancy or accounts with beneficiary designations such as paid on death (POD). Most Vehicles, boats and motor homes are also excluded from the amount under California Probate Code Section 13050.

Additionally, the Federal amount excluded from estate tax increased from $5,000,000 to $5,120,000. The December 17, 2010 change in the law provided that the exemption amount is indexed for inflation. The Estate Tax exemption is still scheduled to significantly decline on January 1, 2013 to $1,000,000. The current tax rate is 35% and will rise to 55% on January 1, 2013.

It is important that you review your estate plan with a licensed attorney committed to the practice of estate planning.