A California probate attorney is necessary when establishing a last will and testament or when settling a probated estate. California has strict probate laws that most residents of the Golden State find confusing. Estate administrators can rarely settle estates without legal counsel.
Hiring a California probate attorney can help individuals ensure estate assets are properly protected and ease estate settlement burdens for personal representatives. Probate lawyers assist individuals with executing a last will and testament; establish healthcare proxies; assign power of attorney rights; and assist with estate management duties.
In the state of California, probate laws require decedent Wills to be validated through the court. Afterward, the designated personal representative receives court confirmation to act as the estate’s fiduciary.
The probate process is prolonged when a person dies without leaving directives via a legal Will. The decedent’s death certificate is filed and a personal representative is appointed through the court. Personal representatives are usually the surviving spouse, parents, or adult children, but can also be a neutral third party such as an estate planner or probate attorney.
California probate laws prohibit anyone from engaging in estate settlement duties without receiving court confirmation. Anyone who engages in this behavior can be held liable for their actions and could face a jail sentence.
Probate lawyers can be helpful when family disputes over inheritance arise. Attorneys tend to be more successful at stopping family feuds from erupting and can act as a mediator to prevent heirs from contesting the Will. If heirs do contest the last Will it will be necessary to hire a lawyer to defend the estate and protect inheritance property.
One of the most common reasons Wills are contested is when a relative has been disinherited. While no one wants to eliminate family members from their Will there are times when the person has disassociated with the family or engaged in behavior that does not warrant being rewarded with inheritance gifts.
Golden State residents who want to disinherit direct lineage heirs should consult with a Long Beach will and probate attorney to ensure they comply with state laws. Otherwise, heirs can suspend the estate in probate for months and cost the estate large sums of money in depreciation of asset value and attorney fees.
When family dynamics are solid chances of fights over inheritance property are minimal. However, if family dysfunction currently exist chances are problems will escalate when a family member dies.
California exempts estates from probate when valued below $50,000. To avoid probate, individuals must execute a last will and testament. Once the Will is filed through court, the personal representative secures estate assets to comply with the mandatory 45-day waiting period. Afterward, the representative appears in court to provide evidence of estate settlement procedures. Upon approval from the judge, inheritance property is distributed to designated heirs and beneficiaries.
Upon distribution of inheritance property, beneficiaries sign an affidavit acknowledging they received intended gifts. The personal representative provides affidavits to the court for validation. Upon validation, the estate is closed and the probate personal representative is released from estate management duties.