Probate Attorney in Walnut Creek
Helping Individuals throughout Mountain View & the Bay Area
Probate is the court-supervised administration of a person’s estate. Probate in California is governed by the California probate code. The probate code is a collection of statutes enacted by the California legislature and interpreted and carried out by the California courts.
What Is the Purpose of Probate?
The purpose of probate is to notify any creditors that a person has died and then distribute that person’s assets. The assets are distributed either as described in the person’s will (if there is one) or as the probate code describes. In essence, probate is a process to foreclose creditors who do not make a claim during the statutory time limit so that the estate can be distributed without outstanding liabilities.
Steps in the Probate Process in California
In California, probate is required when a person dies without a will or when a person dies with a will and a gross estate in excess of $150,000. Many people have the misconception that if you have a will, you can avoid probate. This is not true in California.
Steps in the probate process include:
- Filing petition - To begin, you must file a petition with the court in the county that the deceased resided in. By filing with the court, you acknowledge that you are the executor who will be representing the estate.
- Notifying potential beneficiaries and creditors - Once the petition is filed, a notice of hearing will be published in the local newspaper notifying creditors and people named in the will, as well as heirs of the deceased.
- Appraising and selling assets - The representative of the estate must take inventory of assets that are subject to probate. These often include bank accounts, stocks and bonds, real property, etc.
- Settling creditor claims - Using the assets from the estate, the representative must pay off debts, bills, and other expenses to creditors.
- Distributing the remaining estate assets - After paying off creditor claims, the remaining assets will be distributed to hers and pay off any fees associated with the probate process.
The probate process can be time-consuming and exhausting. It is important that you consult an attorney to make sure the process runs smoothly and effectively.
How to Avoid Probate in California
Probate can be a long, time-consuming and expensive process. It can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to complete. In some cases, people choose to avoid it altogether. Below are some ways to avoid probate in California:
- Living Trusts
- Joint Ownership
- Transfer-on-Death Deeds for Real Estate
What is a Living Trust?
A living trust is similar to a will and can be created for any asset that you own such as real estate, bank accounts, vehicles, and more. Before you do anything, make sure to transfer the ownership of your property to yourself as a trustee in the trust. In the trust document, you must name someone who will be your successor trustee after you pass away. Now the property will be controlled per your wishes in the trust. After your death, the successor trustee will transfer your property to your beneficiaries while avoiding probate court proceedings.
What is Joint Ownership?
Joint ownership refers to when two or more people own a property such as a home. Each person owns a share of an entire property; it is shared as a whole. If you have joint ownership of a property, each person has a “right of survivorship” to it. This means that the surviving owner of the property automatically owns the property after the death of the other owner. Probate court is not needed to transfer the property, however, paperwork is necessary to update the title with the correct information.
Call (855) 963-0987 for a Free Consultation
Please contact the Law Offices of Daniel L. DuRee for a complimentary discussion about how we can assist you with all of your will, trust, probate, and estate planning needs. You can reach our Walnut Creek probate lawyer at (855) 963-0987.
“[Daniel] is always punctual and respects that my time is also valuable, which I love!”- Amy S.
“Personable, professional and very thorough.”- Norman P.
“Very easy to work with!”- G.W.