Probate and Administration
When a loved one passes away without a proper Estate Plan the court may need to be involved in distribution of the estate. In California, your estate may go through probate if you own real property that is not in joint tenancy, such as a house, or you have other property, such as bank accounts, that exceed $150,000 in value. If you are required to probate an estate, having an attorney help with the process may relieve some of the stress and allow you to focus on more important issues, such as family and friends.
Following someone's passing, you may also need help appropriately accounting for and distributing the property per the decedent's wishes. These tasks can be stressful and time consuming. Family disputes also frequently arise. Having an attorney help you with the process may help you avoid being in the middle of the dispute and allow you to maintain positive relationships.
Probate is a public process which occurs when someone's estate does not pass by other means, such as through a trust or by direct beneficiary designation. During probate the executor of the estate is appointed by the court to administer the estate and ensure estate assets are properly distributed.
Disputes often arise during the probate process. Families frequently fight over who should be the executor, how the estate should be distributed, and the true desires of the decedent. The person named as the executor must make an accounting to the court of every transaction that occurs following the decedent's death. This can be a very cumbersome and expensive process.
If a proper Estate Plan has not been prepared and attorney can help guide you through the probate process.
If someone has passed with a Trust in place, it is the job of the trustee to manage and distribute the estate per the wishes of the person or persons who created the trust. This process is not nearly as expensive or complicated as probate, but having someone guide the trustee through the process can still be very helpful. The administrator of the estate must properly account to the beneficiaries of the estate how the estate assets are distributed.
The Administrator must also address disputes between beneficiaries. Having an attorney help with the administration may alleviate the stress caused through the administration process.