California Probate Attorney which Lawyer is the one for you?
Hiring a California probate attorney is an important aspect of estate planning for anyone residing in this west coast state. Since California probate laws are complex and complicated, few people can administer probate estates without assistance of legal counsel.
A California probate attorney can assist estate administrators with the challenging duties associated with probate. When a person is named as the administrator in the decedent's Last Will and Testament, California requires a court hearing to establish validity of the Will. Once the Will is validated, the probate executor can legally act on behalf of the estate.
In instances where the decedent dies intestate (without a Will), California probate laws require court confirmation of any person who chooses to act as the estate administrator. If a person takes action on behalf of the estate without being authorized by the probate court, they could potentially be held personally liable for their actions. If no one steps up to act on behalf of the estates interest, the probate court will appoint an outsider to administer the duties of the estate executor.
When California estates consist of few assets, formal probate might not be required. However, there could be potential benefits to proceeding with the probate process. A California probate attorney can review the estate's assets and help determine if there are tax advantages to receiving property through the probate court. Real property obtained through probate is assessed at date of death value. Typically, this assessment results in capital gains tax savings when property is sold.
California probate attorneys can help estate executor's obtain protection from creditor claims against the estate. When estates are held in probate, creditors are required to submit claims to the court. The bankruptcy court determines if the claims are valid. However, creditors must be notified of the decedent's death. Probate attorneys not only file creditor notices, but also assist in paying off outstanding debts. Oftentimes, they will negotiate with creditors to reduce balances due on credit cards and unsecured loans.
Another role of California probate attorneys is to oversee inventory and distribution of the decedent's assets. Inventory and distribution forms are filed with the probate court to ensure property is distributed according to the decedent's wishes.
Retaining the services of a California probate attorney is particularly important when family members do not get along or if anyone contests the Will. Since family members are oftentimes appointed as the estate administrator, a probate attorney can act as a middleman to diffuse family disputes.