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California Probate Attorney

A California probate attorney is generally required to handle estates of residents who have died. Probate is the legal process used to establish a value of the decedent's estate. It is also used to validate the decedent's Will or appoint an estate administrator if the decedent died intestate (without a Will).

Individuals can hire a California probate attorney to help establish estate planning or to assist them in settling an estate entered into probate. Many people procrastinate about estate planning; particularly when they are young and in good health. However, this is a huge mistake that could cause their family tremendous hardship.

Probate lawyers can help individuals determine the best course of action in the event of their death. Many estate planning options exist; some of which can keep assets out of probate altogether.

Estate planning includes executing a Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney and healthcare directives. POA allows individuals to designate a person to act on their behalf should they become unable to speak for their self. Healthcare directives establish what types of medical treatment the individual does or does not want should they become critically ill.

California probate laws are complex; making it nearly impossible for individuals to administer probate estates on their own. Probate lawyers must file a copy of the death certificate to the probate court for validation. Once this occurs, the designated probate executor can legally act on behalf of the estate.

If California residents die without executing a valid will, a probate judge will appoint an estate administrator. California probate laws require court confirmation of any person who volunteers to oversee the estate. Anyone acting on behalf of the estate without court confirmation can be held liable for their actions.

California probate attorneys assist in obtaining protection from creditor claims against the estate. Probate lawyers can negotiate with creditors to reduce balances owed on unsecured loans and credit cards. They also obtain property appraisals and oversee distribution of assets to heirs and beneficiaries.

Lastly, probate lawyers are beneficial when family members are in disagreement over distribution of assets or if heirs contest the will. Oftentimes, family members are appointed to the position of estate administrator. A probate attorney can act as a mediator to diffuse family disputes.

We invite you to learn more in our probate article library. Here you will find information and resources to help further understand the probate process and estate planning.

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Published on May 18, 2009 at 02:42 AM

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