Dealing with Probate in Southern California

Dealing with Probate in Southern California
Velasco law Jun 03 2022

When a loved one has passed away, the last thing anyone wants to do is go through a long, costly court proceedings to determine what happens to the property, assets, and belongings they left behind. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happens in the probate process, and what families are stuck dealing with when advance estate planning hasn’t been done. According to the California Courts website, a low estimate for the length of a probate case is 9 months. Realistically, probate could take twice as long, if not longer. On top of that, it can cost at least 3 to 6 percent of the value of the estate. Here’s a glimpse into the steps involved.

The Probate Process

Formally dealing with the transfer of property from a person’s estate to their heirs through probate is a complex process even in relatively simple cases. Standard procedures include:

  • Confirming if the decedent has a will.
  • Ordering the original death certificate. This (or a copy of it) will be essential in dealing with banks and other organizations in settling the estate.
  • Filing a petition in probate court. After the filing, the court will either appoint the executor named in the will or appoint an administrator to distribute the estate if there is no will.
  • Locating the decedent’s assets. This can include property, bank accounts, vehicles, jewelry, safe deposit boxes and more—if the decedent did not keep clear records of what they owned, this part of the process alone can take months.
  • Verifying and paying all outstanding creditor claims filed during probate.
  • Preparing a final personal income tax return for the decedent.
  • Distributing remaining assets to heirs and/or beneficiaries after all liabilities have been paid.
  • Completing an accounting of the estate. When this is approved by the court, the file is closed and probate is concluded.

Even when an estate is relatively uncomplicated, it’s clear to see why probate puts unnecessary emotional and financial stress on grieving family members. Should there be any difficulties or disputes, the entire process becomes even longer and more costly than it otherwise would be.

Avoiding Probate

Proper estate planning is the best way to help protect your assets and ensure they are distributed according to your wishes after you’re gone. Setting up a properly prepared trust will allow you to bypass the probate process completely and eliminate unnecessary delays in providing for your family the way you want to. So why is anyone subjected to probate when a clear alternative is available?

At Velasco Law Group, we’ve found that language barriers can be a significant obstacle standing in the way of families who would like to safeguard their assets for their heirs. Legal terminology can be hard enough for native English speakers to comprehend, let alone those for whom English is not their first language. Spanish-speaking families are often at a huge disadvantage in finding highly qualified attorneys who can communicate effectively with them. Because they are not able to access the legal system, they end up unprotected and then must navigate the complexities of probate on their own.

Our bilingual services give our Spanish-speaking clients the means to learn about their choices for effective estate planning, the ability to prepare a comprehensive estate plan, and the opportunity to avoid the wasteful expense and aggravation of probate. We ensure our clients understand the purpose of essential estate planning documents like wills, trusts, durable powers of attorney, and advance health care directives, and that their plan uses these tools effectively to express their wishes.

While Velasco Law Group’s primary aim is always to prevent potential conflict, in disputes we are ready and able to assertively defend your interests in court. We serve clients throughout the Los Angeles and Orange County area, including members of the Hispanic community in need of attorneys who speak their language. If you’re looking for compassionate estate law experts to assist you, schedule your free initial consultation by contacting us here.

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Dealing with Probate in Southern California
Article Name
Dealing with Probate in Southern California
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California probate is stressful. This is a quick guide to explain the probate process and depending on your case, how you can avoid probate. This is a simplified article, should you have further questions contact any of our offices in Los Angeles or Orange County.
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Velasco Law Group
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