When is Probate Required in California?
The many complex state laws that govern the probate process can make the act of sorting through an estate daunting. California imposes many requirements upon beneficiaries and fiduciaries alike. Fortunately, our probate litigation attorneys understand California probate laws and can guide clients through the process. As a certified specialist, Attorney Charles Triay must stay up to date with the state’s evolving probate laws. Our California probate litigation lawyer can let you know when someone is unfairly abusing the system for their own benefit. We can then work with you to rectify the situation.
If a deceased loved one left behind a will, it should name an executor who will start the process. Without a will, a family member may ask the court to be the administrator for the estate, or the family may appoint a professional to administer the intestate estate. Anyone who may be a beneficiary should receive notice of the estate in probate.
The person in charge of the estate must:
- gather the deceased individual’s assets
- pay any debts
- file taxes on an estate
- file all accountings of the estate with the probate court
The executor or administrator will file a final petition for distribution of the assets. A hearing date will be set, and a judge will sign for the final distribution. Finally, the assets will be distributed to the beneficiaries and the executor or administrator will file a declaration for final discharge.
How Long Does Probate Take Without a Will?
The probate process can be unpredictable, taking multiple years or a couple of months depending on the facts of the case. Typical probate cases last about a year unless certain federal estate tax guidelines are followed which could extend the process to 18 months. California provides some shortcuts for beneficiaries in certain situations so they can quickly receive property left by a deceased loved one.
Some ways you can make the probate process easier or eliminate it altogether include:
- Spousal Property Petition – When an individual dies, that person’s surviving spouse can use the spousal property petition to transfer assets. This process takes significantly less time and with lower costs than probate. The surviving spouse may receive any amount of assets through this transfer.
- Declaration – If a loved one has personal property worth $150,000 or less, heirs may receive this property through a declaration. The process has a 40-day waiting period after the decedent’s death. Additionally, beneficiaries may not receive real property, such as land or buildings.
Our Practice Areas
When you come to Triay Law Office, you can expect our knowledgeable attorneys to help you with the following cases:
- Undue influence: Undue influence is when a person exerts pressure on a testator to execute a will or trust for that person’s undeserving benefit. It is also termed elder financial abuse. Isolated and ill individuals are especially susceptible to others seeking to take advantage of their situations for personal gain.
- Lack of capacity: To execute a will or trust, the testator must be of sound mind. Additionally, he or she must be able to understand the nature of the will or trust, the property the testator possesses and the testator’s relationships to family members. If a testator lacked this mental capacity, then an interested party may contest the will or trust to have it declared invalid.
- Contested fiduciary accountings: Executors and trustees who manage will and trust property owe fiduciary duties to beneficiaries. This includes duties to do accountings of investments, expenses, fees, distributions, and taxes. Our law office has experience contesting and defending fiduciary accountings.
- Defective trusts and wills: Wills and trusts must follow the requirements of the California Probate Code to be valid. Even small mistakes or oversights can have drastic unintentional effects on beneficiaries.
- And more
Providing Knowledgeable Probate Services for families of NortherN California Residents
When an individual objects to the validity of a will or trust, or has a claim against an estate, they must have qualified legal representation to argue the issues in probate court. There are differing rules, time limits, statutes, and procedures regulating wills and trusts. Certain issues will not be obvious to laypersons, or even to lawyers who do not exclusively practice probate litigation.
- When Do I Need A Probate Litigation Attorney?
- Probate FAQ
- Probate and Trust Administration
- Constructive Trusts
- Elder Financial Abuse
- Interpreting a Will or Trust
- Contesting a Will or Codicil
- Heggstad Petition
- Contest a Trust or Trust Amendment
- Defective Trusts and Wills
- Removing a Trustee or Executor
- Contested Accountings
- Lack of Capacity
- Undue Influence
- Glossary of Probate Terms
- Probate Litigation
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