What Is Probate?

In California, probate is a court procedure. Through this process, a person’s property is transferred out of their estate after they have passed away. There are some tools available to those looking to avoid probate, but this is almost always handled best by consulting with an estate planning attorney.

Does a will go through probate in California?

Generally speaking, all wills go through probate in California. There are, however, additional estate planning tools that can help you to avoid this process, including:

  • Trusts
  • Life Insurance Policies
  • Annuities
  • Some Property Deeds
  • Gifts
  • And more . . .

If you want to create an estate plan that will allow your loved ones to avoid probate, a consultation with a will and trust lawyer is a great first step. By working with a professional, you can be confident that your loved ones are cared for, no matter what happens.

Is There A Difference Between Trust Litigation & Probate Litigation In CA?

Probate Litigation is a general term that refers to legal action which includes challenges to a will or intestate probate proceedings.

Trust Litigation involves legal action that is concerned with the validity or proper administration of a trust.

What Happens If There Is No Will And The Family Cannot Agree On Who Should Serve As Administrator? Can A Probate Litigation Attorney Help At This Stage?

When someone passes without a will, it is called “dying intestate”. In these situations, their estate will be probated under the laws of intestacy, which establish how their property is to be divided when there is no will.

In such a case, any interested person can petition to be appointed the “personal representative” to administer the estate (i.e., the Administrator). A probate litigation attorney’s role at this point is typically to assist in preparing and filing such a petition or opposing such a petition filed by another person.

How Does Litigation Affect The Probate Process?

Litigation is the manner in which disputes are resolved in the probate process prior to the distribution of assets to beneficiaries. Litigation can cause both delays and deplete the assets of the estate. Therefore, it’s critical to work with a probate attorney to ensure that you protect the value of the estate as a whole.

How Long Will The Probate Litigation Process Take?

The length of probate litigation will vary greatly from case to case. This variation in the timeline of any given case will depend on the complexity of the issue at hand and the congestion of the courts.

What Are The Possible Outcomes Of Probate Litigation?

Many probate lawsuits result in a settlement – where both parties come to an agreement on the outcome of the case. If a settlement agreement cannot be reached, the matter will go to court for a trial to determine the issues in dispute.

How Do We Pay For Probate Litigation?

Legal fees for probate litigation are typically paid by the parties themselves. In some cases, when probate litigation is successful, the parties may seek reimbursement of legal fees from the estate. If the Personal Representative is defending litigation on behalf of the estate, legal fees incurred by the PR are usually paid by the estate.

Are There Alternative Resolution Methods Outside Of Going To Trial That Should Be Explored For Probate Matters?

Before going to trial, you and your legal team can pursue mediation and arbitration to pursue a settlement. Throughout the process, even during trial, settlement will remain a possibility. The best way to ensure that you’re on track toward the right outcome is by working with an attorney who can guide you through each step of the process.

Do I Need An Attorney To Go Through Probate?

You will not be obligated to hire an attorney to go through probate. However, there are many steps and responsibilities that come with being the executor of an estate. What’s more, some estates are very large and complex. Because of this, it’s common for people to reach out to a probate attorney who can make sure all their duties under the law are seamlessly completed.

What Is A Will?

A will is a typed or handwritten document that explains how a person would like their belongings and assets to be distributed after their passing. As a pillar of estate planning, a will is incredibly important for anyone who wants to make sure that their estate is handled according to their wishes.

What’s more, having a will in place can be a huge gift to your family members. Instead of leaving the ones you care about with no plan of how to manage your assets and belongings, a will can provide a clear path forward. This greatly diminishes the opportunity for conflict to arise, and can allow your loved ones to go through the process of handling your estate with a sense of clarity and ease.

Many people wonder: Is a will enough on its own to secure my estate in California?

The truth is, the answer to this question varies greatly from person to person. Often, a will is the only estate planning tool a person ever creates in their lifetime. However, depending on the size and complexity of your estate (and your personal goals), you may want to consider adding other estate planning tools to your overall plan.

What Is A Trust?

A trust is a legal instrument that allows a person to place their assets in the control of a neutral third party (a trustee) to be used for the benefit of someone else. This allows assets to be passed to those you care about with a minimum amount of fees, taxes, etc.

Many people think about trusts as useful only for those with very large assets The reality is, trusts can be beneficial for virtually anyone. If you’re curious about how a trust can benefit your estate plan, don’t hesitate to reach out to a trusts attorney today!

What Are The Most Common Reasons For A Contest Of A Will Or Trust?

People may contest a will or trust for a variety of reasons. While the genre of motivation may vary, the theme across the board points to a singular focus – distrust. When someone believes that the distribution of assets in an estate is not being handled properly, a contest can arise.

Whether you are unsatisfied with the actions of the executor of an estate – or you feel that you are having false accusations thrown against you as you try to distribute assets as an executor – it’s important to have knowledgeable legal counsel on your side.

If concerns lead to a dispute, the estate may end up in litigation. In this case, it is even more vital to ensure that you are represented by a skilled attorney. Failure to secure experienced legal counsel can result in costly and time-consuming lawsuits. Luckily, with a probate litigation attorney on your side, you can be confident that your rights will be protected.

For more information on Estate Litigation & Probate Contests In CA, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (661) 270-7858 today.

What You Need To Know About Contesting A Will California

In this article, you can discover:

  • Answers to the most common questions people have about contesting wills and trusts in California.
  • The critical role that an attorney plays in California will and trust disputes.
  • Vital information about the rights and responsibilities of trustees, personal representatives, and administrators in California.

Who Can Legally File A Petition To Contest A Will Or Trust In CA?

Any person who is an heir at law, or a beneficiary under the will or trust can file a petition to contest the will or trust in California.

How Long Do You Have To Contest A Will Or Trust In CA?

The time to contest a will or trust varies depending upon the terms of the will or trust and the facts of your case which lead to the contest.

Can You Contest A Trust In California? What Evidence Would Support A Trust Contest?

The most common understanding of “contesting a trust” involves legally challenging whether the trust is valid and enforceable under California law. More often, though, the beneficiary of a trust will challenge the manner in which a trust is being administered by the Trustee.

This challenge may seek to compel the Trustee to take specific action or provide an accounting of trust transactions. Alternatively, the challenge may seek to remove a Trustee and replace them with a successor Trustee.

What Can Be Done When An Interested Person Believes The Personal Representative Has Overcharged The Estate In CA?

Normal fees for a personal representative are statutory, fixed, and must be approved by the court. If the Administrator is seeking extraordinary fees, they must file a petition with the court, and such a claim for additional fees can be challenged by any interested party.

What Accounting Is Required By The Executor Of An Estate In California?

Formal accountings are periodically required by law, and may also be requested by interested parties. If any interested party believes that an adequate accounting has not been provided or disagrees with the information provided in the accounting, they may file objections or a petition with the court seeking appropriate relief.

Can The Trustee Appointment Be Challenged In CA? If So, On What Grounds?

Trustees are required to act in accordance with the terms of the trust. If the Trustee fails to properly act, an interested party can file a petition for damages, to compel actions by the Trustee, or to remove the Trustee and have a successor Trustee appointed.

If A Personal Representative’s Breach Of Fiduciary Duty Causes The Estate To Lose Value, Will They Be Required To Pay Damages And Restore The Estate?

Usually, a Personal Representative (PR) is bonded to protect the estate from harm. If there is no bond in place, the PR may be held responsible for misconduct that causes loss to the estate.

For more information on Contesting A Will Or A Trust In California, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (661) 270-7858 today.

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