Experience Probate Administration Attorneys in Escondido
When a loved one passes away leaving a will or with no estate planning at all, HainesLaw attorneys are here to assist you. Under these circumstances, the “estate” or belongings of the deceased need to go through the probate process in the Superior Court of the county in which the person died.
Probate Administration Attorney, Laurence Haines, located in Escondido, California, is skilled at understanding complex probate issues and applying solutions to resolve issues of what constitutes the person’s “estate” and who are the appropriate beneficiaries and heirs.
If you are seeking an experienced probate administration law firm to represent you in a probate court matter where a person has passed away, you can rely on Mr. Haines’ experience and record of success.
Steps for a Successful Probate in California
Before anything can happen in a Probate, someone must be appointed to oversee the process. If there is a will, it typically designates an executor to take on this duty. If not, the court will appoint a personal representative to serve in that role. The executor or personal representative must be impartial and treat all beneficiaries fairly. This person will take possession of the estate property and distribute that property according to the wishes expressed in the will or by operation of law.
Step 1: Filing of the Petition
The first step in initiating probate proceedings is filing a petition with the California Superior Court in the county where the deceased resided at the time of her death. This petition generally sets a hearing to appoint the personal representative.
Step 2: Notices
After the petition is filed with the court, the notice of hearing will be published in the local newspaper a minimum of three times. It is also necessary to mail the notice to everyone named in the will, along with all legal heirs of the deceased. Notice must also be provided to potential creditors.
Step 3: Proving the Will
If there is a will, it is necessary to “prove” the will unless it qualifies as a “self-proving” will. In some cases, the will contains specific language and/or an affidavit from everyone signing the will, which makes it unnecessary to prove the validity of the will.
Step 4: Collecting Assets
One of the primary duties of the personal representative is to take possession of all of the deceased’s assets, but only those that are subject to probate. There are some types of estate planning instruments that are not required to go through probate. If the title of an asset needs to be transferred into someone else’s name, the personal representative also takes care of that. Examples of titled assets include:
- Stocks and Bonds
- Mutual Funds
- Brokerage Accounts
- Bank and Credit Union Accounts
- Real property, motor vehicles, boats, and planes
The court requires an inventory of the estate property along with an appraisal of certain property.
Step 5: Payments of Debts
Once the personal representative has provided notice of the death to creditors, those with debts payable by the estate must submit a claim. If those claims are determined to be valid, they will are paid from the estate. All valid debts must be paid before other distributions can be made. This includes all bills, as well as funeral expenses. California law requires creditors to submit their claims within four months of the appointment of the personal representative. Untimely claims or claims which appear not to be valid do not have to be paid.
Step 6: Estate Tax Payments
The personal representative is also responsible for making sure all estate taxes are paid, that includes federal estate taxes and state taxes, which the state of California imposes. In most cases, a personal representative would not be held personally liable for estate taxes, but if the estate has been distributed before the taxes are paid and there isn’t sufficient property left to pay those taxes, personal liability may be imposed.
Step 7: Closing the Estate
The final step is closing the estate. This final step involves providing an accounting of all actions taken by the personal representative with regard to the estate. A petition, which summarizes the estate and reports all actions taken on behalf of the state, will be filed with the court. The petition also includes the fees to be paid to the personal representative and the estate attorney, if applicable. If there are no objections and the court approves the accounting, then an order will be entered by the court concluding the estate. Once this happens, the personal representative can then distribute the remaining assets to heirs and pay any necessary fees.
Known & Respected
Known and respected in San Diego for our honesty, integrity, and ethics, we will give you the advice and counsel you to need to successfully negotiate the probate process. Most probate matters proceed unopposed, however, if someone wishes to contest the will or make improper claims, we will be available to help you litigate the matter as well.
HainesLaw does not charge any attorney’s fees to get your probate started. HainesLaw receives its attorney fees at the end of probate based on a statutory formula and does not get paid until a Probate Judge signs off on the probated estate for final distribution. Attorney’s fees come from the estate itself and there is never a need for the executor of a will or personal representative of an estate without a will to pay personally for attorney’s fees.
Call 760 741-4529 for a free probate consultation with attorney Laurence Haines today.