Probate is the legal process that takes place after someone dies. Probate attorneys help clients and their families with Probate when someone dies with or without having a will. Probate entails ensuring that the will is validated; the assets of the deceased are inventoried and appraised; and all debts, creditor claims (including applicable lawsuits) and taxes are paid. Once it is determined who is entitled to inherit, the assets that remain after the payment of all debts and expenses.
Probate attorneys understand that the probate process is generally overseen by an executor, if there is a will, or by an administrator if there is no will. Depending on state laws and varying circumstances, Probate can take anywhere from four months to several years to be completed.
A will is probated in the county and state in which the testator (person who wrote the will) died. If the testator owned any property in another state, another probate proceeding will be started in that state and county. Assets that do not pass directly to a surviving spouse or other heir through a community (joint ownership or joint tenancy) property agreement, right of survivorship, a payable on death (POD) bank account, an “in trust for” account with named beneficiary, other trusts with named beneficiaries, life insurance, retirement accounts [e.g., IRAs, 401(k)], or annuities are subject to formal probate proceedings. If the decedent dies without a will (intestate), and no beneficiaries are named, the courts will determine the hierarchy of heirs.
If you have a probate problem or simply need answers to your questions, contact an experienced probate attorney at Elder Law Services of California today for a free initial consultation by calling 1-800 403-6078.