Facing a long and stressful probate process?
Losing a family member is a challenging chapter in anyone’s life. That is why the last thing you want to worry about during this time is dealing with your loved one’s financial responsibilities. Unfortunately, paying their remaining debts and making sure their property is distributed correctly are things that need to be addressed. Thankfully, you will not have to tackle this time-consuming and demanding process alone. If you have a Newport Beach probate lawyer on your side, the road will be much smoother. These estate planning attorneys can help settle debts and ensure the distribution of assets is completed properly and swiftly after your loved one passes away.
Probate is the legal, court-supervised process of reviewing the estate of a deceased person – or “decedent.” The process involves going over the decedent’s assets and determining their inheritors. Simply put, probate is the legal process an estate will go through when an individual passes away. During this process, the probate court will start distributing the estate to the proper heirs. In general, probate is more straightforward when individuals create a last will and testament before they pass away that defines their wishes. This includes naming their beneficiaries and the individual in charge of overseeing their final wishes—also called the “executor” or the “personal representative.”
When the wishes of a loved one are known and in legal, written form—like a will—there’s less opportunity for family disputes and less chance of probate litigation.
In California, probate is generally required after an individual passes away. However, different types of probates may be applicable depending on the estate. For instance, simplified procedures can be used if the estate’s value is less than $166,250. Or, if a significant number of estate assets are attached to a surviving owner or a beneficiary, then probate may not even be necessary. Take, for example, life insurance policies. These policies often have a named beneficiary of their own. This means that the value of the life insurance benefit would automatically transfer to that person without going through the process of probate litigation.
California’s probate system and estate law are complex and have many technical rules and pitfalls. These can result in numerous issues for family members surviving the decedent. Fortunately, when you work with a Newport Beach probate lawyer, you will not have to figure these procedures out on your own. Probate attorneys can provide legal advice and help you get through the probate process as they work to settle the estate.
More specifically, probate lawyers can:
It is important to note that a probate lawyer will either be representing the personal representatives or interested parties. They cannot represent both in the same case due to a conflict of interest.
Although many people assume that every object, document, or asset will have to go through probate after their loved one dies, that’s not necessarily true. Not all the decedent’s assets will necessarily be subject to probate. For instance, property that is not owned individually by the decedent can be considered a non-probate asset.
In addition, the following assets and accounts will also usually pass outside the probate process:
When it’s time to take your loved one’s estate through the probate court process, you should reach out to an experienced and knowledgeable Newport Beach probate attorney as soon as possible. Probate attorneys can ensure that all the stages of the probate administration are completed according to California laws and help you figure out if probate is even necessary for the decedent’s estate. This will save you a lot of stress, money, and time. Don’t wait to get the legal help you require for settling your loved one’s estate. Instead, contact an experienced Newport Beach probate lawyer today to learn more about this probate process and how these attorneys can help you. Meier Law Firm serves clients in Newport Beach, Orange County, Santa Ana, and surrounding areas with their estate planning needs. Contact us today to schedule an estate planning session and discuss your probate issue.
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There are a few different issues beneficiaries and other family members have when an estate goes through probate. The biggest problem is that the probate process is a lengthy one. Heirs will not be able to collect their inheritance until the court settles the estate.
Other issues include cost – court fees and legal fees can pile up when the process takes so long – and the public nature of probate. Since it’s a court process, inheritances that go through probate are a matter of public record.
Most probate cases don’t take longer than 18 months to finalize, but even the simplest estates often take several months to complete. Factors that can affect the length of time the estate administration in your loved one’s probate case could take include court backlogs, complex assets and debts, and a will that’s being contested or challenged for validity.
While the process is never short, having a probate attorney on your side can help make probate move along smoothly and efficiently, minimizing delays. Estate attorneys can ensure legal documents are in order and even help settle disputes that may arise and threaten to lengthen the process.
The best way to avoid probate is to have an estate plan in place. Strategies like setting up living trusts move estate property and assets out of the estate completely, effectively avoiding things like probate, inheritance taxes, and estate taxes.
To ensure your estate is planned appropriately to bypass probate, speak with an estate planning attorney in Orange County today.