Probate Attorneys Serving Southern California
responsive and understanding Probate Court Legal Representation
Dealing with the passing of a family member or close friend is a difficult and disorienting experience. It’s an emotional time filled with questions about what to do next, and who to ask for help. If your loved one just passed away and you have no idea what to do, call us at 855-219-3333. If your loved one had a living trust or other estate plan in place, you may not need probate at all, or perhaps a simplified probate. If you are named as the executor of the will, then you will have to file for Probate to have all of the property of the deceased transferred over to the beneficiaries in accordance with the will.
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Do You Need A Probate Attorney?
If your dear friend or family member passed away owning real property(s) in California, and did not have a trust drawn up, it is almost certain that a probate case will need to be opened. (There is a “short” procedure where the real estate is worth less than $150,000, but this not likely going to be the case in Southern California.) At this turbulent and disorienting time you undoubtedly have many questions, but three things are clear in these situations: a probate should be opened, it should be opened as soon as possible, and it is best handled by an experienced probate attorney. We have had many real estate litigation, family law and foreclosure defense clients come to our office whose lives are in disarray because a probate case was never opened. Call an experienced Probate Attorney to go over the facts with you and advise you on what the next steps to take are.
Probate Attorneys are generally paid from the proceeds of the Estate, and the fees for the Probate Attorney are capped for assisting with the general administration of the Probate Estate.
Contact Us About Your Case
Call (855) 219-3333 or fill out the form below to request a case analysis.
What is Probate?
Probate means that there is a court case that deals with:
• Transferring the property of someone who has died to the heirs or beneficiaries;
• Deciding if a will is valid; and
• Taking care of the financial responsibilities of the person who died.
In a probate case, an executor (if there is a will) or an administrator (if there is no will) is appointed by the court as personal representative to collect the assets, pay the debts and expenses, and then distribute the remainder of the estate to the beneficiaries (those who have the legal right to inherit), all under the supervision of the court. The entire case can take between 9 months to 1 ½ years, maybe even longer.
How does a Probate case work?
(1) Determine the Executor/Administrator
If there is a Will, then the custodian of the will (the person who has the will at the time of the person’s death) MUST, within 30 days of the person’s death:
- Take the original will to the probate court clerk’s office within 30 days.
- Send a copy of the will to the executor (if the executor cannot be found, then the will can be sent to a person named in the will as a beneficiary).
If the custodian does not do these things, he or she can be sued for damages caused.
If there is no will and a court case is needed, the person who wants to be the administrator must file a Petition for Letters of Administration. The administrator usually is the spouse, domestic partner, or close relative of the dead person. The probate court will appoint an administrator to manage the estate during the probate process.
(2) File the Petition for Probate.
Someone, called “the petitioner,” must start a case in court by filing a Petition for Probate (Form DE-111). The case must be filed in the county where the person who died lived (or if the person lived outside of California, in the California county where that person owned property).
The Petition for Probate has different options, like:
- Petition for Probate of Will and for Letters Testamentary
- Petition for Probate of Will and for Letters of Administration with Will Annexed
- Petition for Letters of Administration
In addition, a probate case requires more forms than just the Petition for Probate form.
(3) Administer the Probate Court Case
- The probate clerk sets a hearing date.
- The petitioner must give notice of the hearing to anyone who may have the right to get some part of the estate, plus the surviving family members even if there is a will and they are not named in it. Any person who is interested in the court case may file a Request for Special Notice (Form DE-154), which means that they must receive a copy of paperwork filed by the person who is chosen to manage the estate.
- The petitioner CANNOT mail the notice. It must be mailed by any other adult who is not a party to the case.
- The petitioner must arrange for notice to be published in a newspaper of general circulation.
- A court probate examiner reviews the case before the hearing to see if it was done correctly.
- Once all the paperwork has been reviewed by the examiner and corrected, if necessary, the judge decides who to appoint to be in charge as the personal representative of the estate (also called the “administrator” or “executor”).
- The personal representative gathers up the assets and prepares an Inventory and Appraisal to be filed. The personal representative usually will also need to contact a probate referee to value the nonmonetary assets. Find the contact information for a probate referee in your county. (Get more information on probate referees.)
- The personal representative provides formal notice to creditors with the Notice of Administration to Creditors and pays the debts.
- A final personal income tax return is prepared for the person who died.
- The probate court figures out who gets what property.
- A Report of Sale and Petition for Order Confirming Sale of Real Property is filed with the court so that sales of real property are confirmed by the court.
- If the estate earned any money (such as interest or profit in a sale), the personal representative will have to submit a final estate tax return.
- The personal representative reports to the court on how the estate was handled. This report is a final plan and accounting. The report is scheduled for hearing so the judge can review how the personal representative handled everything. The judge needs to be satisfied that everything has been properly taken care of.
- After filing with the court any required final receipts to show that everyone received their property from the estate, the court discharges the personal representative from his or her duties.
As you can see, this is the kind of process best handled by an experienced attorney. Arcstone Law is here to take this burden off of you, so please don’t delay in calling us at (855) 219-3333 or just fill out the form on the right. You’ll be glad you did.
Our Expert Team
Our Team Of Southern California Attorneys Ready To Help You Today
Arcstone Law was established as a Foreclosure Defense Law Firm helping homeowners sue the banks after the mortgage meltdown of 2008. During that time the efforts of our lawyers were recognized and published by the State of California as precedence for other attorneys to rely on. Today our team of lawyers have grown, and our practice areas now include contract law, purchase/sales, quiet title litigation, partition actions, bankruptcy, eviction law, probate, divorce law (where Real Property is at issue) estate planning, business law and personal injury.
We focus everyday on providing high quality legal representation for our community and we dedicate ourselves to our clients and their cases. Whether you need legal assistance in Eviction Court, Probate Court, Federal Court, Bankruptcy Court or Appellate Court, there is no challenge that our experienced legal team is not ready to assist with. We have won thousands of cases and obtained millions of dollars in judgments and settlements for our clients. Call us today to schedule your consultation with a licensed attorney.