A Brief Q&A on Probate

When someone passes away, their estate often has to go through probate court before it is distributed to their heirs. This particular branch of the court system is one that most people don’t really know too much about, which can make it quite confusing. To make it worse, those who need to go to probate court are typically going to be mourning the loss of a loved one, which can make everything more challenging. Get answers to common questions about the probate process below so you are ready for whatever comes your way.

What is probate court?

Probate court is a legal process where the assets of the deceased are transferred to any heirs or others who may have a claim on them. Any creditors are paid off, and the value of items in the estate are determined and distributed according to the Will of the deceased.

What does it mean to be an executor of an estate?

During the probate process, the courts will appoint someone as the executor of the estate. This person will be responsible for following the provisions of the Will. If there is no Will, they will be responsible for making any necessary decisions on behalf of the deceased.

How long does the probate process take?

Going through the probate process typically takes somewhere between nine months and a year. For particularly complex situations, it can take significantly longer.

How much will the probate process cost?

The cost of going through probate will depend largely on how big the estate in question is, whether there are any disputes, and a number of other factors. Fees in probate generally start at about $6,000 and increase based on the size of the estate and if any extraordinary services are provided. Avoid using attorneys that are not focused on estates because the fees are fixed and set by California law and using an experienced probate attorney will only help make the process easier on you.

Can probate be avoided?

Probate court can be avoided if you take the necessary steps ahead of time. Through careful estate planning, you can place your assets into trusts or other options that will provide exact instructions about what needs to happen upon your death. If your loved one has already died, however, there isn’t likely a way to avoid the probate process if they didn’t work through estate planning in advance.

Do I need an attorney for probate court?

Having an attorney there to work with you can make this whole process much easier and less time-consuming. It is especially important if you have been named the executor of the estate. If you need an experienced attorney in this area, please don’t hesitate to contact us to talk about your situation.

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