Are you looking for a qualified attorney to help you navigate the probate process? At BPE Law, we have the experience and expertise needed to guide you through this daunting process. Our mission is to provide efficient and cost-effective service to all of our clients.
Professional Representation During Probate
The legal process of dividing the belongings and assets of a loved one after they have passed away can be time-consuming and emotionally draining. It is essential that you have professional representation during the probate process to ensure that your loved one’s wishes are carried out and that the estate is distributed fairly.
When an individual dies intestate, or without a will, their estate must go through a process called probate before it can be divided among family members and loved ones. In California, there are no uniform probate rules, meaning that this process can result in lengthy courtroom battles between family members. On occasion, even the estates of individuals who left a will behind are subject to probate.
What is Probate?
Probate is the process of examining a deceased individual’s estate and allocating their assets and property to their family members and loved ones. In many situations, an individual will work with an estate and probate attorney before they pass away to craft a legally binding will. In some cases, such wills must go through probate. However, the majority of probate cases begin because an individual died without leaving legal instruction as to how their estate should be distributed. When this happens, a judge works with a representative of the state to determine how property will be divided.
The Probate Process
The first step in the probate process is filing a petition with the court to open an estate and appoint an executor, or a person who will be in charge of handling the affairs of an estate. In California, certain individuals are given priority when applying to be the executor of an estate. However, no one is automatically awarded the position of executor. You must file a separate petition with the court in order to become the executor of a loved one’s estate.
Choosing an executor can be a lengthy process, especially if more than one family member has petitioned the court to fulfill this duty. It is absolutely essential that you have legal representation during this process. Your BPE Law attorney will guide you through the process of filing for the rights to execute an estate and will represent you in court as your provide evidence as to why you would be a suitable executor.
After an executor has been chosen by the court, that individual must take a comprehensive inventory of the deceased individual’s estate. They must include information about all assets, property and debts. All creditors are paid and any outstanding tax debt is paid. The executor then develops a plan for how the estate will be distributed and petitions the court for this plan to be approved. If the court approves the plan, assets will be distributed to the designated parties.
If an individual disagrees with the executor’s decisions, they may appear in court and explain why they think the disbursement plan for the estate should not be approved. Contesting an executor’s decisions can be difficult, especially if only one person filed a petition to fill that position. However, it is possible to challenge such decisions with the help of a qualified attorney.
The Probate Timeline
In general, the probate process takes between six months and one year to complete. However, some probate cases can take several years to go through the courts. If an individual left substantial debts when they passed away, the probate process can be delayed due to a need to negotiate with creditors and settle debts. In other cases, fighting within a family about who should execute an estate and how assets should be distributed can cause a delay in probate. Remember that working with a qualified attorney from BPE Law can help to cut down on probate-related delays.
Probate is a time-consuming and frustrating process. If you are interested in helping your family avoid probate in the case of your death, it is important that you work with an estate and probate attorney now. A legally binding will or living trust will help your family avoid probate and will provide you with peace of mind.
If you are facing the probate process or would like to learn how you can help your family avoid probate, please call us today at 916-966-2260.