Probate in California
Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult things one can experience and dealing with the legal process to settle an estate only makes life more difficult. While one of the main objectives in estate planning is to avoid probate, sometimes this is not possible. Probating an estate in California can be a long and costly ordeal, but we have helped many clients efficiently navigate the process. Our focus is to interface with the Court system so that you can focus on caring for your family. We help with probates in various counties in Southern California, including Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Orange Counties.
Probate is the administration of the estate of someone who's passed away, also known as the "decedent," and involves a judge and court supervision. The court's job is to make sure that various debts and expenses of the decedent are paid. The court also ensures that the remaining assets of the decedent's estate gets distributed in accordance with his or her Will or by the laws of intestacy if the person died with no will.
Probate generally is the result of failing to ensure that proper estate planning documents were in place while the decedent was alive, for example a revocable living trust. If the decedent dies leaving behind a Will, then the Executor is tasked with completing the probate process and making sure the terms of the decedent's Will are carried out. If the decedent dies without a Will or any other estate planning mechanism in place, the decedent's estate will be governed by the state laws of succession and the assets will get distributed based on a statutory framework defined by the California legislature.
Even if someone dies without a Will or a Revocable Living Trust, probate may still not be necessary. For example, if the decedent dies owning only "joint tenancy" assets or assets held with a spouse as "community property with right of survivorship" probate may not be necessary. It is best to consult an estate planning lawyer to see what the options are.