Bereaved families, taxpayers benefit from cost-saving plan to streamline processing of wills

Measure to speed up how wills are processed sponsored by State Bar

February 11, 2015

SACRAMENTO – In an effort to save time and money for both the bereaved and taxpayers, Sen. Bob Hertzberg today announced introduction of  State Bar-sponsored plan to streamline certain court proceedings when addressing disposition of the assets of someone who has died.

“Full probate court proceedings can be a long and arduous process that runs up a family’s attorney fees, incurs unnecessary court costs and prolongs how and when a family can reach closure,” Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, said about Senate Bill 155. “Even simple wills often are forced to go through long probate proceedings that are an unnecessary burden on California families.”

As introduced, SB 155 would simplify required legal procedures for the types of wills referred to as ‘pour-over wills,’ where assets to be transferred, as well as beneficiaries, are specified within well-defined legal parameters.

Specifically, a “pour-over will” directs that assets in a decedent’s estate be distributed upon death to a revocable trust that was established by the decedent while alive. Under current law, a full probate administration is required if the total value of the decedent’s assets subject to the will exceeds $150,000, even if those assets simply pour-over to the decedent’s revocable trust. The beneficiaries are subject to the cost and delay of a full probate administration, and the court has to use its scarce resources to oversee an often-lengthy process.

According to the Judicial Council of California, the rate at which probate cases filed in 2013 were disposed of was less than 70 percent.

 “Clearly there is a greater demand for California probate court resources than can be met,” Hertzberg, himself a lawyer, said. “Providing a safe and speedy method to handle routine cases involving typical pour-over wills will reduce the workload on our overburdened courts. At the same time, it’ll reduce unnecessary stress placed on family members and friends who have already suffered enough.”

SB 155 is sponsored by the State Bar of California, Trusts and Estates Section. An initial policy hearing on SB 155 has not yet been set.

For more, including a Fact Sheet on SB 155, visit Hertzberg’s Web site at the address below.

Bob Hertzberg, chair of the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance, represents nearly 1 million San Fernando Valley residents of Senate District 18, which includes part of Burbank and the following communities in Los Angeles: Arleta, Granada Hills, Hansen Dam, Lake View Terrace, Mission Hills, North Hills, North Hollywood, part of Northridge, Pacoima, Panorama City, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, part of Sun Valley, Sylmar, Toluca Lake, Valley Glen, Valley Village, Van Nuys, the City of San Fernando and Universal City. See a district map HERE or at  After serving in the Assembly from 1996-2002, including two years as Speaker, Hertzberg built an international renewable energy business; invested in solar, wind and electric-car projects; and worked for structural changes in government through two civic groups: California Forward and the Think Long Committee of California. More HERE or at

Communications Director
Sen. Bob Hertzberg, Senate District 18
Capitol Building, Room 4038
Sacramento, Calif. 95814
(916) 651-4018 office; 916 834-1128 cell



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