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Probate FAQs

Probate, Estate And Trust Administration: An Overview

The probate process is notoriously complex and unpredictable. For your convenience, our partner Ken Kossoff has answered a list of frequently asked questions below. ​

Please click the arrow next to each FAQ to see the answer. When you’re ready, move on to the next one.

What happens if someone dies without a will?

If you die without a will in California, your estate must go through the probate process. The “intestate succession laws” will then determine who of your surviving relatives will receive your property and what percentage of the estate they will obtain. If you were married, all of your community property will go to your surviving spouse. If you have a spouse and a child, it will be separated equally between the two. If you’re not married, your remaining family members will have to answer a series of questions in order to help the courts make their decision.

How long will probate take?

A “quick” probate process can take as little as nine months. However, that can change based on the size of your estate. On average, it can take up to a year and a half. Having a will or a trust in place can help speed up the process.

What does the probate process look like?

There are many steps to the probate process. First, the court must decide if a will exists and if it is valid. Then, they must figure out who the heirs and beneficiaries are, if any. Next, they will determine how much the decedent’s property is worth. The court will then identify any remaining financial. Lastly, the court will transfer the property to the rightful heirs and beneficiaries. The executor, if there is a will or the administrator, if there is no will, is the court-appointed personal representative to collect all of the assets, pay any debts and distribute the estate. The court oversees this entire process.

What happens if someone challenges a will or trust?

This is also known as a “will contest” or a “trust contest.” Not everyone can challenge a will or trust – only “interested persons” may do so, which includes children, heirs, beneficiaries, spouses or creditors. The person contesting the will or trust must prove he/she are named on the document. If there is no will or trust, the challenger must prove he/she would have received something. If the remaining family members agree, the court can throw the will out. If they don’t agree, the court will then determine whether or not the claim is valid.

What is the role of an attorney in the probate process?

Our firm believes that the role of the attorney is to assist our clients in every step of the probate process. We are here to help answer any questions you may have. There are many moving parts to probate cases, and we can help you make informed decisions. We can also represent you and make sure your concerns are being heard by the court. Because you are dealing with legal documents, it’s important to work with someone who understands the law. We can help explain the process and file the necessary paperwork. If you handle probate by yourself, you run the risk of making major mistakes, which could result in long-term legal troubles.

Call Today to Learn More

Probate can be a very complex process, so it’s important to talk to a trusted attorney who can help you navigate it all. We are happy to schedule a consultation, even if our office did not draft the trust.

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