What Is Probate?


     By Watkins, Blakely & Torgerson, LLP

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When looking into estate planning, probate is often one of the most confusing processes for most people. Want to know what it means? In the following article, we will explain the process, the importance, as well as how a lawyer can help.

Probate is a legal proceeding that has to do with managing an estate after someone dies, such as a family member or other relative. In the state of California, probate proceedings are conducted in the Superior Court in the county in which the decedent lived. Probate can take many months up to several years to complete. Probate laws are designed to ensure that creditors are appropriately paid and that heirs receive their inheritance. If you need help with legal matters associated with probate, contact an Orange County estate planning attorney.

The process of “probate” begins with a petition to open the estate and name a personal representative (person responsible for managing the estate) who will handle the decedent’s property and assets. Following this step, an official “Notice of Creditors” will be printed in a local newspaper and a Notice of Administration will be sent to the parties who are involved. The creditors will have a specified amount of time to file their claims against the estate. Once the personal representative pays the debt, they can move forward by distributing the remaining assets belonging to the estate. Upon completion, a petition for discharge will be filed with the court and the estate will be subsequently closed.

Even small estates can go into probate. In the state of California, estates valued over $100,000 are typically entered into probate. However, if the decedent was survived by a spouse, there is a possibility that it may not go into probate, unless the property includes real property valued more than $30,000.

Matters relating to estates can be volatile and contested amongst family members and other individuals involved. There is often times a lot at stake when a property goes into probate. If you anticipate encountering any sort of dispute with an estate entering probate, you should contact an estate planning attorney that you can trust.

These are situations that will not only affect you, they will have a profound impact on your entire family. To ensure that this situation is carried out legally to make sure that all documents are binding, it is in your best interests to get the involvement of a knowledgeable lawyer from a local firm. When looking for such a firm, it is encouraged that you do your research and find a firm that has the experience, knowledge and reputation that you can rely on. This is not a situation that you can procrastinate so don’t wait – call a lawyer today!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Watkins, Blakely and Torgerson, LLP
Watkins, Blakely and Torgerson, LLP has been proud to serve Orange County residents with over four decades of legal services. With a focus on dealing with probate and estate planning, they are prepared to help clients with issues that range from probate to trusts, wills and even taxation issues. Should you choose to work with an Orange County estate planning lawyer from their firm, you will be able to rest easier knowing that they will be on your side, helping you to navigate through the complex issues surrounding estate planning.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.