California Probate Process & Timeline
I. GENERAL PURPOSE OF PROBATE
II. THE BEGINNING STEPS
III. DOCUMENT INTENSIVE PROCESS
IV. COLLECTION AND MANAGEMENT OF ASSETS
V. HANDLING DEBTS AND TAXES
VI. DISTRIBUTING THE ESTATE
VII. COMMISSIONS AND FEES
VIII. PROBATE TIMELINE
General Purpose of Probate
The general purpose of probate is to collect and account for all the assets of the deceased; liquidate the assets into cash; attempt to negotiate a reduction and then pay all outstanding debts and taxes of the deceased and distribute the monies or assets per a will or to the immediate spouse/ children/ siblings/ relatives of the deceased. Call me NOW for a FREE Consultation directly with the attorney.
- I will prepare all the legal documents; handle all the legal filing.
- I will make all the court appearances. (98% of the time)
- I will move the probate to a timely conclusion.
It is the client’s job to make sure all of the assets are found, though rest assured, I have people to help you find and collect them. The money is disbursed after the court approves distribution.
I work closely with you to complete the probate procedure painlessly and efficiently. This is why it is so important to choose an attorney whom you like, can talk to and who is someone you can work with. I will walk you through your duties, keep you and all family members informed at all times as to what the proper probate procedure is and also provide you the support you need to make the right decisions. I also have a team of professionals who can help with every facet of the procedure from the sale of the home, investment property, stocks, 401K, or a business to the sale of vehicles and other personal assets.
The Beginning Steps
It is a good idea to start the probate process as quickly as possible after the death of the decedent. Most people start the process after the funeral, burial arrangements, and other family matters are completed but you can start the probate process anytime. The process begins by hiring The Probate Guy a probate attorney that routinely handles probate matters. I am intimately familiar with the probate process and its many pitfalls. I meet with all clients personally, mostly by telephone or by appointment. I do not use paralegals to prepare or complete any of the probate work. Rather all the work is completed by me so that it is done right the first time. You only talk with me, The Probate Guy. The result is that all the documents are properly prepped and filed. This way, the probate procedure is completed at the earliest possible conclusion.
There is no additional fee for this personal service I provide each and every client. In fact, I am one of the few probate lawyers who believes in his clients so much that I do not require upfront fees to pay for the filings and other incidental costs incurred in the case. I understand that many times the death is unexpected, and the cost of the funeral and related expenses can cause financial difficulty for the heirs/relatives. For this reason, I the probate attorney advance the fees for all the costs such that there are no upfront or out of pocket fees to my clients. Many courts require the client to post a surety bond that guarantees the safety of the estate assets. The Probate Guy will handle the entire procedure for attaining the issuance of a surety bond, which is generally required by the court before the probate administrator can begin. The Probate Guy will also advance the fees for the bond in order to begin the probate procedure promptly. The result is less stress for my clients and an easier probate process.
Document Intensive Process
Almost the entire probate procedure is conducted via written documents that are approved at court hearings. There is generally very little live testimony required except in unusual situations such as a will contest. I will handle all the hearings without the need for you, the client, to be present. Generally, you are not required to attend any probate hearings unless there is an unusual wrinkle in the case. Of course, I will attend all hearings as your probate lawyer and I will also prepare you for any hearing that require your attendance.
Collection and Management of Assets
Once the court has approved the probate petition, it is the client’s job to find, define and secure all the assets of the deceased. This is generally conducted at the decedent’s house where securities, jewelry, deeds to real property, bank statements and other valuable assets are generally found. Once the assets are determined, an inventory is completed, and The Probate Guy will have the assets appraised by a court-appointed appraiser in preparation for sale.
To assist, I will run various asset searches to help find the most property, even unclaimed property. Some assets avoid the probate process such as life insurance, joint tenancy property, joint bank accounts, and trusts. I will guide you through the process of attaining those assets as well as the ones included in the probate process.
Once the assets are identified, let’s make sure the insurance is current, and if not, we can get it. If needed, The Probate Guy may advance the costs. It sounds like a lot of work, which it is, but with the expertise of The Probate Guy, it is completed in an efficient and painless manner.
Depending on the number of heirs to the estate or the asset mixture, many estates liquidate or sell off all the assets so that each heir receives cash. It is also possible to preserve real property and distribute the actual real estate at the conclusion of the probate case. It all depends on the unique situation of each case. I will spend extensive time with you to make sure that the best and most economical decision is made. Should it become necessary to sell some or all of the estate’s property, I will navigate the many technical rules that must be followed to complete a sale. The Probate Guy will also provide names of professionals to assist in the sales, making the process proceed smoothly.
Handling Debts and Taxes
To start the probate procedure, a petition is submitted to the court to have the client appointed as the case administrator. At the time the petition is filed, a notice is published for all creditors, and notice is remitted to all known heirs. The notice must be published even if there are no known creditors. The Probate Guy will advance both the petition fees and publication.
Creditors must present their claims within four months after the notice is published. Any claims not presented are forever barred from collection other than secured creditors and taxing authorities. In the event there are claims filed, The Probate Guy will always attempt to negotiate the reduction of the debt, thereby preserving the assets for the beneficiaries. Please do not pay creditors until you connect with me for free!
It may be necessary to have an accountant prepare and file federal and state income tax returns for the decedent for the period ending with the date of death. Income tax returns for the estate for each year until the final distribution may also be necessary (most estates may not require the returns). The Probate Guy will provide recommendations about these matters once the probate process is underway.
Distributing the Estate
When all debts and taxes have been paid, and the estate is ready for final distribution, The Probate guy will prepare a final account and report based on the receipts and disbursements made by the estate. The account and report will also ask the court to order the distribution of the remaining estate assets to the beneficiaries. Once the account and report are filed, the court will hear the account and report and enter judgment settling the final account and report, thus authorizing the distribution of the balance of the estate assets to the heirs. The Probate Guy will then help you distribute the assets and obtain the necessary receipts. This completes the probate administration. The Probate Guy is also there to assist with “what to do with the money!”
Commissions & Fees
If the client is appointed to administer the estate, California Probate Code §901 allows for the payment to the client of a commission for the services provided to the estate. The commission is based upon the gross or total amount of estate assets. This commission is referred to as administration fees and is solely determined by the court at the final hearing. The fee the client receives is generally the same fee that the attorney receives. The client may either accept or waive the awarded fees for their services. This decision is made at the end of the case.
In certain situations when extraordinary services have been provided, such as sales of real and personal property; contested or litigated claims against the estate; litigation relating to the property of the estate; or carrying on the decedent’s business under a court order; the court may award additional fees. The Probate Guy will explain each of these situations as they arise and petition the court for the appropriate fees and related expenses. This is only an outline of the responsibilities of The Probate Guy and associated duties of the client in a probate procedure. Although matters may arise that have not been mentioned, I assure you that I will try my best to minimize any inconvenience to you. Conversely, many of the matters mentioned above may not arise in your administration.
Please contact me, The Probate Guy, at 714-522-8880 to schedule your complimentary consultation. Most times, I conduct the consultation over the telephone. Remember, your satisfaction and comfort are of the utmost importance to my team and me at The Probate Guy, so please call now and allow me to help in this unfortunate and unexpected situation. You will be glad you did; just look at my ratings and reviews.
California Probate Timeline
If the decedent (a fancy term for the person who died) did not have a trust but rather passed with a Will or no Will, then probate is required to transfer real property (fancy word for house) or other personal property (fancy word for cars, bank accounts and stock accounts) worth more than $166,000. The purpose of probate is to: collect and account for all the assets of the deceased; liquidate the assets into cash or transfer the house to the beneficiaries if they choose; attempt to negotiate a reduction if any creditors’ claims (such as credit card payments owed) are made against the probate estate; pay all outstanding taxes and distribute the monies or assets per a will or to the spouse/children/siblings/relatives of the deceased. The Probate Guy will prepare all the legal documents, conduct all the legal filings and make all the court appearances thereby moving the probate procedure to a timely conclusion. It is the client’s job to make sure all the assets are found, to prepare a complete list of beneficiaries and to oversee that proper disbursements are eventually made after the Court orders the distribution. Not to worry, I have a stockbroker to help with finding assets like stocks, 401(k) and other retirement accounts. I have real estate brokers to handle all real estate. The Probate Guy team and I am here to help you.
You and I work closely to complete the probate procedure and I have free professionals on hand to assist. This is why it is so important to choose an attorney that you like and can work with. I will walk you through your duties, keep you informed at all times as to what the proper procedure is and provide you the support you need to make the right decisions. The Probate Guy has a team of seasoned and easy to work with professionals who can help with every facet of the procedure from the sale of the home, investment property or business to the sale of vehicles and collection of stocks, bonds and retirement accounts.
My sole focus is Probate—the Probate of Wills and Probates where this is no Will. I can handle all your southern California Probate needs. Whether it is Anaheim, Buena Park, Cerritos, Compton, Downey, Fullerton, Gardena, La Mirada and Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego, The Probate Guy can absolutely help you navigate Probate. It starts with answering all your questions upfront over the telephone for free. The unknown causes anxiety, so call me NOW and I will answer all your questions for FREE! You talk directly to me the 30+ year attorney.
Unlike most attorneys, I pride myself on being approachable, easy to speak to and genuine, telling you the honest truth even if it means talking you out of hiring me. I prefer a happy, fully informed client. There are many times when probate is not absolutely necessary and I will absolutely let you know. The initial telephone conversation(s) are always free and there are NO OUT-OF-POCKET EXPENSES to you or any need to visit my office. I advance all up-front probate fees and costs.
The Probate Guy Process is designed to create “Worry-Free Probate Case Management” for you and your family. I only focus on probates, wills and trusts in Southern California, including but not limited to Anaheim, Buena Park, Cerritos, Compton, Downey, Fullerton, Gardena, La Mirada and Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego. There are NO OUT-OF-POCKET EXPENSES to you; I advance all up-front probate fees and costs. I also take care of all the hearings so you do not have to go to Court. So, call me NOW for your FREE consultation.
Call Me Now for Free Probate Legal Advice: 714-522-8880
The Probate Guy Process is designed to create “Worry-Free Probate Case Management” for you and all parties involved. I only focus on probates, wills, and trusts in Southern California, including but not limited to Anaheim, Buena Park, Cerritos, Compton, Downey, Fullerton, Gardena, La Mirada and Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego. There are NO OUT-OF-POCKET EXPENSES to you; I advance all up-front probate fees and costs. I also take care of all the hearings, so you do not have to go to Court. So, call NOW for your FREE consultation directly with the attorney.