Probate – not a word we use in everyday life, but when a family member passes away, their estate may need to go through the California Probate process, which can be a painful a long and stressful legal procedure. You may find yourself appointed as an executor or administrator. What happens now? What have you been tasked with? Most family members get overwhelmed because there is an abundance of unknowns and the legal jargon takes some time to learn. The best solution is to get legal advice from a Certified California Estate attorney at the Velasco Law Group.
Probate is for situations where assets that form the decedent’s estate, generally valued at greater than $150,000, are only held in the decedent’s name i.e. not in joint tenancy or a revocable trust. The probate process can be time-consuming as it goes through the courts and it may be particularly stressful on the family especially if there are disputes. Interestingly, even celebrities e.g. the late Prince and Aretha Franklin now find their estates exposed to probate because there was no estate plan or living trust in place at the time of their deaths. The potential conflict can be very difficult, not to mention costly, for family members, but there are probate experts who can help.
When your family is going through probate proceedings, try to ensure as much as possible, that all beneficiaries are on the same page. This may sound easy, but in reality, it may actually be the toughest part of the process!. Ensure you follow the rules and the process that is in place, conducting affairs in an open, methodical manner. It is very easy to get caught up in all the legalities and court proceedings, but as the executor/administrator, you need to be mindful of consulting and informing those who are directly impacted by the outcome of the process. In many cases, human emotions play out and mistrust can start taking root. It may be a good idea to schedule regular update sessions with all involved. Perhaps appoint a neutral party that everyone can register their complaints or concerns with. If you hit a stumbling block, you can also ask the court for help. If you are a potential beneficiary, but also named as the executor, you may want to confirm with all parties that they are comfortable with the appointment. If you are not willing to take on the responsibility, the law allows you to pass the position to the next person in line.
As a potential beneficiary of an estate, it is in your best interest to ensure the executor or administrator is following the rules. That way you can rest assured that everything is by the book. If something does not seem right, register your concerns and try to work through it with the executor. If there are unresolvable disputes, you could suggest that the executor allow the court to help. You may wish to find out more about the probate process from a lawyer who specializes in such matters. Keep in mind that the person appointed as executor does have the final, exclusive say on how the estate is managed. Work with him/her and try and look at the situation from other angles if need be.
If you own property, have a life insurance policy and other assets, consider putting your affairs in order in an estate plan or living trust to avoid lengthy probate proceedings when you pass. Talk to the experts at Velasco Law Group for advice on how to get started. You may find it difficult and confusing at first, but, consider it a gift to your family members. You can decide exactly how your estate is distributed so as to ensure your spouse and any dependents are looked after. The truth is you’re protecting your wealth and leaving a generous legacy behind for your family. Find out more about getting an estate plan completed- with the Velasco Law Group. Make an appointment HERE