Sacramento Probate Attorneys
Probate laws in California are not overly complicated, but they often still require the expertise of an attorney to navigate. If a family member names you as an heir in a will, you may have to deal with the probate system. In this case, you will need to decide if you want to tackle this legal process on your own or hire a Sacramento probate attorney to guide you.
What Is Probate?
Probate simply refers to the legal processes that recognize a will and name an executor of an estate. California has streamlined and simplified the probate process over the years, so the process isn’t nearly as onerous as it was in the past. Probate might not even be necessary in several scenarios. If, for example, you own your assets and property jointly with someone else, you’re eligible to use what’s known as a Spousal Property Petition. If your assets are under a certain amount – in the state of California, the cap is $150,000 – you can avoid probate.
In most other cases, though, you’ll need to deal with the probate court before you’re eligible to collect a loved one’s assets.
How the Probate System Works
If you’re required to go through probate, you’ll need someone to get the ball rolling in court. That person is usually the executor of the estate, which may be an attorney or trusted family member. Generally speaking, the probation process lasts six months to a year, and is comprised of several parts:
- The executor files the will, along with a document called, “Petition for Probate,” in the county where the deceased resided. At this point, the executor pays any filing fees and formal notices are issued to the parties involved in the settlement. The court must find the will valid and give the executor permission to divide the assets; when this happens, they grant a “letter of administration.”
- Once the courts give permission to divvy up the estate, the executor begins the process of liquefying the estate. Generally, the estate gets a tax ID number and its own bank account. Throughout the process, the executor is responsible for inventorying assets and reporting them to the court.
The probate litigation process may sound complicated, but for an experienced attorney the process is a familiar one.
Probate Law in California
The state of California has worked to make the probate court system easier to navigate over the years. Under the Administration of Estates Act, the executor is allowed to complete several estate actions without approval from the court. For example, the executor can pay taxes and approve or deny claims from creditors without prior approval. Other actions, like selling real estate, require the supervision of the court.
An executor is also tasked with maintaining the estate as part of their duties. They must pay any taxes, insurance bills, and take steps to safeguard any valuable possessions. The executor is also charged with paying any outstanding bills with creditors using the estate account – final medical expenses, for example. Creditors have 4 months to issue claims with the executor.
When all of the final expenses and taxes have been paid, the court will ask the executor to close the estate. When the estate is officially closed, the remaining assets can be liquefied and given to the chosen inheritors.
Choosing a Knowledgeable Probate Attorney
As you can see, the probate process can become quickly complicated. While a detail-oriented person is capable of tackling the task, it often helps to have the guidance of an Sacramento probate attorney who is experienced in dealing with the probate court. A competent law firm can ensure you don’t miss any deadlines and that the estate assets are divided fairly among the inheritors. To start the probate process today, contact Boyd Law.