Long Beach Probate Lawyers Helping Clients Dealing With the Probate Process in California
The task of probating a loved one’s estate while grieving their loss may seem like an overwhelming task. While there is no doubt that probate requires a lot of work and significant paperwork, having a basic understanding of what steps to take and what to do if you need help is extremely important to make the process easier. Likewise, it is possible to craft your estate plans in a way as to avoid probate and spare your loved ones from this sometimes laborious process. Our Long Beach probate attorneys provide a few key insights on how probate works in California.
How Does Probate Work in California?
Probate is a legal procedure in which a judge oversees the process of closing out a deceased person’s estate and distributing assets to the rightful heirs. In California, the person named as the executor of the will has the responsibility of managing the decedent’s affairs and carrying out tasks such as filing the appropriate forms and communicating with beneficiaries.
Other tasks such as filing a tax return, paying off taxes, and paying creditors may also need to be carried out before assets can be passed on to heirs. Depending on the complexity of the decedent’s estate, the probate process can take several months to be completed. Many find it beneficial to rely on a probate attorney to guide them through the process and ensure it goes smoothly.
Is Probate Mandatory for All Assets in California?
Not every asset in an estate may be subject to probate, and some estates may qualify for a simplified probate process. Generally speaking, assets with a named beneficiary designation such as living trusts, bank accounts, retirement accounts, pensions, and life insurance policies are examples of assets that do not usually require probate in order to be distributed.
Estates valued at less than $166,250 may likely qualify for a simplified probate process, which is more informal and may not require as much time and work as a formal probate process. As always, consult an attorney if you are unsure about whether you have assets that will require probate or not.
Is There a Way I Can Keep My Estate From Going Through Probate?
Because every estate is unique, it may be difficult to know how the probate process will play out, how long it will take and what it will require from your family and your executor. For those reasons, many clients find it better to plan their estate in a way as to keep as many assets out of probate as possible.
A popular estate planning tool that can be used – among other reasons – to keep assets out of probate is a living trust. There are several types of living trusts, and many of them may give you greater control over how your assets are distributed and may avoid probate by passing on your assets to the trust beneficiaries without needing court approval. An estate planning attorney can advise you on the best option for your specific situation.
How Can a Probate Attorney Help Me?
A probate attorney can provide essential guidance and legal services for those assigned with the task of probating a loved one’s estate. It may be overwhelming to try to handle your loved one’s estate while grieving their loss, so leveraging the knowledge and experience of a professional, such as a probate attorney, may be in your best interest.
The same is true for those working on their estate plans and considering adding tools such as a living trust with the intent to avoid probate. These types of tools may be very beneficial but only if properly created and employed. Your attorney can analyze your assets and give you professional advice on whether probate avoidance would benefit you or if other options would be more suitable. At Barilari & Williams, LLP, our legal team is prepared to assist you with all your probate questions and needs. Reach out to our Long Beach office at 888-EST-PLAN to learn more.