What Is Probate?

Probate is the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person. Estates include property, money, cars, investments, and all other assets. If there is a will, probate determines the will’s validity and assigns an executor to administer the estate to receiving heirs. However, if someone dies without a will, the court will declare who that person’s heirs are and appoints an administrator. Then, the administrator ensures the estate pays outstanding debts and distributes the person’s wealth as required by probate law.

Probate Law Orange County CA

Probate law involves a court-supervised multi-step process, including:

  1. Validation of the deceased person’s will
  2. Assignment of an executor who will manage the estate
  3. Identification of the deceased person’s assets
  4. Payment of any lingering debts or taxes
  5. Distribution of the remaining assets to the beneficiaries 

Probate Law in Orange County, CA, Is Complicated; One of Our Attorneys Can Help

Since probate court can burden family members during a grievance period, many people use a revocable living trust to avoid their estate going through probate. However, there are circumstances when a probate proceeding is mandatory, even with a revocable living trust. Probate law in Orange County, CA, is complicated. Fortunately, whether you are the executor, beneficiary, or creditor of the estate, hiring a knowledgeable attorney to guide you through the process will significantly help.

All of our attorneys have expertise in both state and federal laws. In addition, we can discuss strategies to help you avoid probate by establishing a revocable living trust, for example.

Probate FAQ

Do I need a probate attorney in California?

While DIY probate is an option, it is not recommended for several reasons. A probate attorney utilizes their expertise in probate law to facilitate the administration of an estate following the passing of an individual. Moreover, their role involves ensuring that the deceased’s wishes are honored, and their beneficiaries receive their rightful inheritance, all while minimizing the burden and anxiety on those involved.

How does a probate attorney get paid in California?

The state of California determines probate attorney fee commissions based on the estate’s total value. The statutory fees for attorneys and executors in California’s probate cases are 4% on the initial $100,000 and 3% on the subsequent $100,000. Importantly, the probate fees are the estate’s responsibility and do not require any upfront payment or obligation from the executor or administrator.

What does a probate attorney do in California?

A probate attorney helps to settle an estate and assists with various tasks, including:

  • Identifying all estate assets
  • Preparing and filing all probate forms and court documents
  • Opening and managing the estate’s checking account
  • Preparing and filing all court documents
  • Determining and paying taxes, final bills, and debts
  • Collecting life insurance policy proceeds
  • Retitling assets in beneficiaries’ names
  • Transferring assets in the decedent’s name to the appropriate beneficiaries

How long does probate take in Orange County, CA?

Typically, the probate process will take about 2 years. However, an estate that has complications could take longer.

Do you still have to go through probate if you have a will in California?

Yes. Simply having a last will & testament does not prevent the probate process. During probate, the judge establishes the will’s authenticity and validity.

What is the amount I can inherit and avoid probate in California?

You can inherit $166,250 or less and avoid probate in California.

Our latest blog posts regarding probate law:

The Differences in Various Estate Law Attorney Specialties Explained

Estate planning attorneys, probate attorneys, and trust administration attorneys each fulfill vital yet distinct functions within the legal procedures related to legacy planning, asset distribution, and wealth preservation. Estate planning attorneys focus on creating a plan to manage a person’s assets and affairs, while probate and trust administration attorneys settle an estate or trust after…

Continue Reading The Differences in Various Estate Law Attorney Specialties Explained