Probate in California is a court supervised process that is used to wind up a person's legal and financial affairs after death. A California probate attorney is usually hired by the Executor to oversee the process.
The deceased person’s assets are administered to ensure that all creditors are paid, all rights of the beneficiaries and heirs are protected, and the estate assets are properly and fairly distributed.
Probate can take anywhere from 12 months to 2 years (and sometimes longer), and can be very complicated. Probate is also quite expensive and the fee is set by California’s Probate Code. Whether a person dies with only a will, or no will at all, a probate will likely be necessary if the decedent owned assets over a certain amount, or if they owned assets only in their own name.
The Probate Process in California
The California Probate process can be broken into six basic steps: (1) Validation of the Will; (2) Appoint executor; (3) Inventory estate; (4) Pay claims against the estate; (5) Pay estate taxes; (6) Distribute remaining assets.
Each of these steps involves legal documentation and validation, as well as proper accountings.
Choosing the Right Attorney
The one essential thing you can do to ensure your probate is done right is to choose your attorney wisely.
Do not assume that all attorneys are the same - Too many lawyers only “dabble” in probate or trusts. Don't choose a lawyer who does probate as a sideline because these lawyers often blunder causing real problems for their client and their cases often take longer than those handled by experienced probate lawyers.
You don’t have to use the attorney who prepared the Will – just because a particular attorney prepared the Will, this does not mean that attorney must handle the probate, nor are they necessarily the right person for the job. You need to be comfortable with the attorney and confident that they are the right attorney for you.
Choosing your probate or trust lawyer is one of the most important decisions you will make. If you put in the time and effort to find the right lawyer, you will be rewarded with a skillful guide who will help you navigate the probate process. (more)