A probate attorney in San Diego will help with the estate planning while the individual is alive. The legal process of probate after death validates the will, distributes the property, and manages the existing debt of the deceased.
What many don’t realize is that this process can happen with or without a will. In either situation, the probate lawyer must be knowledgeable of California’ s probate laws because the probate court will recognize the executor if there’s a will or an administrator if no will exists as a personal representative. The task is to evaluate the estate assets, corroborate any debts and expenses, and authenticate legal heirs before any property is transferred. Depending on the estate’s size, the process can take up to a year or longer to complete.
Different Types of Lawyers
Transactional and litigation are two areas practiced by probate lawyers. Most attorneys specialized in one area. Others practice in both fields. Transactional probate lawyers take care of the administrative side of probate, submitting the last will and death certificate. Transactional attorneys usually work with the executor or personal representative named in the will.
Litigators represent clients in probate court in different situations. A probate attorney in San Diego is needed if legal confrontations over the estate occur or someone challenges the will, the executor or how the current attorney is handling probate. If the deceased passed while a lawsuit was in process, the estate now takes the deceased person’s place in court proceedings. An estate can also initiate ligation under the same legal processes as the claimants.
Why Engage a Probate Lawyer?
Although having a will at the time of death can simplify the process, family matters can cause unbelievable legal complications and emotional stress. It’s one reason why working with an experienced probate lawyer before death helps to anticipate issues that could potentially delay the transfer of the estate assets as requested in the will.
A probate attorney in San Diego with expertise in trusts and estate planning reassures authorized decisions are detailed in these documents.
- Living trust
- Power of attorney
- Medical power of attorney
Too often the deceased fails to implement a will before death causing months of delays in executing the final wishes or unnecessary hardships to living descendants. A state licensed probate attorney can help:
- File the documents required by the probate court.
- Identify the heirs and beneficiaries.
- Calculate the asset’s worth.
- Manage the estate financial responsibilities.
- Transfer the property.
Other Reasons for Hiring A Probate Lawyer
It’s imperative that you seek legal guidance since estate litigation rules may differ depending on the circumstances. If a beneficiary or heir to the estate encounters conflict with other family members or the executor, a probate attorney must represent the heir during the course of the probate process.
California statutory law requires notification of the death in a public publication (newspaper), in case of unknown creditors or beneficiaries. Each has the right to make a claim against the estate. Creditors must follow state law, which requires making a claim against the estate in probate court before filing a lawsuit.
- California differentiates debt incurred by the deceased versus the executor.
- Executor or personal representative must work with the court to determine if the claim is valid or not.
- Valid claims must be paid before any transfer of probate property.
Items like retirement plans, life insurance, or bank accounts with named beneficiaries are not always protected in probate court.
- Beneficiary designations can be challenged by applying will-contestation principles.
Location and other properties owned by the deceased at the time of death matter. If the estate included an extensive collection of real estate holdings, real estate property laws come into play.
- Transfer-on-death deeds are also known as beneficiary deeds allow the transfer of real estate without court proceedings.
- Property within the living trust can be transferred without probate court.
- Residences owned by two or more people are joint tenants. The other owners share the right of survivorship. The property is automatically inherited.
Whether you are an estate heir or a beneficiary, you should consult with an attorney to assure the actions taken to protect you and the assets from future litigation. An experienced probate attorney is your best mode of defense.