Fullerton Probate Attorneys
Compassionate Counsel for Families Navigating the Probate Process
If someone dies owning assets in his or her name alone, there must be a probate court proceeding to determine who should receive the assets. Probate is the legal process wherein the estate of a decedent is administered. If a person dies with a will, the will takes effect through the probate court proceedings.
If the will is deemed valid, an executor will distribute the property of the estate as instructed by the will. However, if a person dies without a will, the person is said to die “intestate” and the administrator appointed by the court will distribute the estate based on the laws of intestate succession.
The probate process can be complex. We recommend retaining our Fullerton and Bellevue probate attorneys to assist you. At OC Elder Law, we offer comprehensive counsel for families throughout Orange County.
What Is Probate?
Probate is a legal and financial process that entails handling money, property, and possessions left behind when a person passes away. The attorneys at our firm can walk you through this complex process, helping you feel confident that probate is being handled properly and of the utmost legality.
How Does Probate Work in California?
Upon receipt of the will, we will take the original documents to the probate court clerk’s office. This must be done within 30 days of the decedent’s passing. Whether there is a will or not, we will file the death certificate with the court and will file a petition for probate on your behalf.
In the petition, we will seek to name you as the executor if the will names you as such, or as the administrator if there is no will. As the executor or administrator, you will be able to manage the estate’s assets.
Throughout this probate process, we will conduct all work required by the court including but not limited to:
- Providing notices of the probate hearing to beneficiaries and creditors
- Assisting you in gathering assets and filing the inventory and appraisal form
- Contacting probate referees
- Advising you on paying debts
- Preparing income tax returns
During one of the hearings, the probate judge will instruct you on how to distribute the estate’s property.
How Long Does Probate Take in California?
The most common probate proceeding is called the formal administration proceeding. The entire proceeding can take between nine months to one and a half years, maybe even longer.
What Are Your Duties & Obligations as an Executor/Administrator?
After being appointed the executor or administrator of an estate, certified copies of the letters testamentary or letters of administration naming you as the executor may be needed by:
- Title companies
- Tax authorities
- And others to allow you to administer the estate
Thereafter, you must collect all the assets, pay the debts and expenses, and then distribute the remainder of the estate to the beneficiaries. The court will expect you to provide a report detailing how the estate was handled. Upon review and approval of this report, the judge will discharge you from your duties as executor or administrator.
Probate fees are statutory and set forth by the state of California. To find out what your executor’s fees and the probate attorney fees are, please fill out our probate calculator to get the total estimated fees and commissions.
How Can You Avoid Probate in California?
Avoiding probate can be very beneficial. Not only is it expensive and time consuming, it also takes the control out of your family’s hands.
You can avoid probate by:
- Giving away your assets before you pass. Because you won’t own them, they will not be subject to probate.
- Having joint ownership of property allows the property to be transferred to the joint owner upon the death of the other.
- A living trust allows you to hold most of your assets and after your passing a successor trustee will take over. Then they can transfer the assets to beneficiaries.
What Is the Difference Between a Probate Lawyer and an Estate Lawyer?
While an estate planning lawyer works with the living to determine how their assets will be divided up after their passing, a probate attorney works with the loved ones of the recently deceased, determining how the assets should be distributed and what should be done with them moving forward.
Serving All of Southern California
If you find yourself needing assistance with a loved one’s assets, call the Fullerton and Bellevue probate lawyers at OC Elder Law. We are experienced in the probate process and are prepared to guide you through this difficult time.
Call (888) 493-5088 now to get started. If you are ready to move forward with your estate planning, click here to book your 90-minute planning consultation with our skilled Fullerton probate attorney.
Work with compassionate and experienced estate planning and elder law attorneys who will help you plan for the unknown and protect you and your loved ones.
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