When it comes to planning the details of an estate and understanding probate in Northern California, having a lawyer is essential. A lawyer understands the often complex intricacies of the probate code. Did you know that the California probate code has 11 divisions and hundreds of pages of regulations and rules. You are here because you have questions about probate law and rest assured, as you read on, you will gain a greater understanding of this area of law and walk away with your questions answered.
What Is Probate Law?
A probate, in simple terms, is a legal document. Probate law is the legal processes involved in administering a person’s estate. When a probate is received, it is the first step in the estate administration process. Probate law encompasses the creation of a will, the validation of a will, or the administration or creation of trusts. When a person who has a will dies, the probate court starts the process of validating the will or wills of the deceased person. Because of the intricacies of California probate law, it is important to have the assistance of an attorney who is well versed in this area of the law.
What Is the Process?
There are many processes that take place during probate. Your attorney can help you understand the specifics regarding your case, but some of the technical steps and key points to remember include the following:
- Creditors are notified.
- Legal notices are published.
- Executors of the will are verified.
- Executors are guided on how to distribute assets and give regard to creditors.
- Time factors are involved in filing and objecting to claims against the estate.
- If the total estate exceeds certain thresholds, then estate taxes, inheritance taxes, or gift taxes must be considered.
- If the will calls for it, real estate must be sold to satisfy payments to creditors or individuals.
- Other costs of administration, such as regular income taxes or property taxes must be deducted before assets are distributed.
Can Probate Be Avoided?
You may be wondering if the whole legal process of probate can be avoided (besides running away to a foreign country, which is not recommended). There are a few situations where it is possible to avoid probate, and it is best to consult an attorney to see if your situation is one of them, but if there is simply a life insurance policy that needs to be transferred to a beneficiary or if an asset has a pay-on-death or transfer-on-death designation, you can usually avoid probate.
When Should I Seek Help?
You don’t need to wait until a loved one has passed on to seek the help of an attorney specializing in probate in Northern California. It is actually best to consult with an attorney before death comes to secure a valid will, as well as protect your assets and protect against undue contestment of your will. A probate attorney can help with the following:
- Drawing up and completing a will
- Offering solutions to avoid probate for those who have a small estate (usually under $100,000 in California)
- Guiding individuals needing to protect real estate holdings, trademarks, copyrights, business ownership, and financial portfolios
If you pass without executing a legal will, it can lead to a long probate, multiple contestments, and a legal nightmare. Protect your assets and estate, as well as your loved ones by consulting with a probate lawyer to execute a will.