What is Probate?

Probate is the default legal process a person’s property undergoes after they are deceased.  In an ideal world, when a person dies, their property, money, and assets are quickly passed down to their heirs or designated beneficiaries according to their Comprehensive Estate Plan.   

But if the deceased person has not prepared a Living Trust, then their property and assets are temporarily seized by the state and frozen while the Probate Courts decide who will receive the decedent’s estate.  

Hiring A Probate Attorney

Facing the death of a loved one is never easy and having to go through the Probate process can make it overwhelming. The Lawyer in Blue Jeans firm specializes in estate planning and Probate law. That’s all we do! Our experience in managing Probate cases and working with the San Diego Probate Courts ensures that if you have to go through Probate it will be as smooth as possible. 

Navigating Probate Courts can be a complex undertaking, whether your loved one has left a Will or not. It can be extremely time consuming for one to handle on their own with all of the paperwork and legal compliances that may be foreign to someone who hasn’t done this before. Hiring an experienced Probate attorney is a great way to make navigating the Probate process easier on everyone involved. 

A Probate Attorney Can Provide Expert Guidance

Navigating the Probate process can be difficult but an experienced Probate attorney can help to guide loved ones who have been designated as executors, administrators or personal representatives of an estate.

California Probate Attorney Statutory Fees

Download and view the full California Probate Attorney Statutory Fees document.

HOW MUCH DOES A PROBATE ATTORNEY COST?

The Probate process can be expensive for beneficiaries. Additionally, for complex estate issues, the attorney fees, excessive time spent in courts, and endless paperwork signing can be daunting.

According to California Probate Code Sections, the personal representative (executor) is entitled to compensation and the attorney is entitled to a statutory fee. The compensation to the personal representative and the statutory fee to the attorney are based on a percentage of the gross value of the Probate estate. Download the full California Probate fees document and see the table below for estates up to $1,000,000

FUNDS FREEZE WHEN AS ASSET IS IN PROBATE

Having a Last Will and Testament can help an executor navigate the bureaucracy of Probate Court by expressing the deceased individual’s wishes, but it will still require the executor to go through the laborious and stressful Probate process. With only a Will, Probate often takes more than a year.

During the limbo period in which an estate is held in Probate, the bank accounts, assets, and property are unavailable to the deceased individual’s family and inheritors. The beneficiaries of the estate can be left in a state of uncertainty and frustration as the estate is held to settle debts, taxes, and trudge through routine government bureaucracy. Meanwhile, they must sit with an unsettling feeling wondering if their deceased loved one’s assets will be distributed fairly.  With so much up in the air, this can cause challenges for a family already engaged in a painful grieving process.

After death, you want to ensure that your hard earned money and property are distributed to those you care about as soon as possible.  But in Probate the remaining funds are only released when the court decides, and all pending matters are settled.

ASSETS IN SEPARATE STATES COMPLICATE PROBATE

If a deceased individual owned assets or real estate in more than one state, things get even more complicated and drawn out. Each state has its own laws and regulations when it comes to probate. Attorney fees will begin to compound as an executor will have to navigate state-specific rules and multiple Probate proceedings.

If an executor is from out of state or lives in a different city, that person must travel back and forth to attend court hearings, sign paperwork, and be present for any other court-supervised mediation.

This can be time-consuming, expensive, and cumbersome for anyone, especially a family member or spouse who is still grieving.

ARE THERE ANY BENEFITS TO PROBATE

Probate isn’t all bad.  It’s the state’s attempt to protect a deceased person and their heirs by ensuring the assets and property in an estate are being distributed fairly and equitably.  The Probate Court also establishes a platform for a deceased individual’s heirs, loved ones, family members, and others to bring a claim to the estate in an organized and supervised manner.  

Although the government does attempt to do a fair and equitable job, some cases will unfortunately involve various difficult legal, financial and emotional circumstances that can complicate the Probate process.

A Probate attorney can be an invaluable asset should questions arise involving issues such as:

  • The mental capacity of the decedent at the time the Will was drawn up
  • Accusations involving the use of undue influence, elder abuse or deception regarding the deceased
  • Determining the value of any property or assets included in the estate
  • Assuring that the executor correctly executed the Will
  • Potential commingling of estate and personal assets

Often when claims arise against an estate, emotions run high and costly mistakes can be made.  Having a professional probate attorney to provide expert guidance can help to mitigate these situations and avoid those mistakes, making the entire experience proceed smoothly.

CONSULTING A PROBATE ATTORNEY JUST MAKES SENSE

When you find yourself facing the intimidating prospect of working through the Probate process, perhaps the biggest mistake you can make is assuming you can handle everything yourself.  Navigating that legal minefield can be difficult in the best of times but even more so in the emotional aftermath of a loved one’s death. Hiring an attorney who specializes in Probate matters can make all the difference, allowing you to breathe easier knowing that you are in the best possible hands.  

Probate attorneys have a thorough understanding of all the state and federal laws governing the disbursement of estates and are prepared to handle any type of Will contests. You can trust our experienced Probate attorneys to handle your case with care and understanding. We know how difficult this time can be for you and we’re ready to help you navigate the Probate process to get everything resolved as easily as possible.

Blogs on Probate You May Be Interested In

A Step-by-step Guide to Probate

When to Hire a Probate Attorney

THE FINAL RULING

Everyone should avoid putting their family and loved ones through the stressful process of Probate at all costs. Probate requires a deceased individuals’ loved ones to go through reams of paperwork, spend time in and out of courthouses, and take personal time to settle an estate.

The most stressful aspect of Probate is that it usually takes a long time.  After your death, you want your family and loved ones to be taken care of, especially in the difficult time period immediately following death.  People naturally experience sadness and undergo a grieving process that can make it challenging for them to return to work.  Oftentimes, this is after already being financially burdened by the deceased individual needing extra medical, hospice, and family support care at the end stages of life.

The Probate process can also be very expensive for beneficiaries.  For complex estate issues, attorney fees, excessive time spent in courts, and signing paperwork can be very frustrating.

If you can avoid the potential bureaucratic nightmare of Probate Courts it can save your family a potentially expensive, frustrating, and time consuming headache.  The best way to avoid Probate is to find a trusted attorney who is well-versed and experienced in all aspects of drafting up a proper Estate Plan that includes a Will, a Revocable Living Trust, an Advanced Healthcare Directive, and a Durable Power of Attorney.  

By legally documenting your wishes, creating a Living Trust to pool all of your assets, and appointing a reliable trustee to equitably distribute your assets for you in your absence, Probate can be avoided, your assets and wealth can be safeguarded, and your family taken care of immediately. 

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619-683-2545

3990 Old Town Avenue
Suite A-102
San Diego, CA 92110

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