California Probate Lawyer

Probate Court is the part of the state court that administers the estates of people who have died and of people who are incapacitated and need someone appointed to care for their needs (i.e., a conservatorship). Usually, when people refer to “going through probate,” they mean the process of administering the estate of someone who has died following California Probate Code. In many cases, you can avoid probate by planning ahead of time with the proper legal documents*.

If someone you love has died, a California probate lawyer like Elizabeth G. Blust can help you navigate the often difficult paths through the probate procedure.

Here are some highlights about the California Probate process:

  • The Probate process is guided by the court according to the laws of the California Probate Code.
  • Probate rules must be followed exactly; even minor errors can cause long delays.
  • It is public, requires fees that are set by statute, and takes time.
  • If you die without a will or with just a will but no trust, your estate will go through probate if the value of your estate is above a certain amount set by law (currently there are thresholds at $50,000.00 and $150,000.00 for certain assets).
  • By creating a trust, you can choose to have your estate distributed to your beneficiaries by your trustee without using probate.
  • The trustee must still follow the law (e.g., the trustee must pay your taxes and debts and must notify your heirs) and can use the court to address any questions that may arise, but the court does not oversee the process in the way it does with a probated estate.
  • The distribution is private and may go more quickly with a trust depending on the assets of the estate.* Generally, the trustee is allowed a “reasonable fee” for his or her services, rather than a payment of the statutory fees of probate. Some people may prefer the open, court-monitored process of probate, but most people opt for the private process afforded the trustee under a trust.

*Every situation is unique.  To discuss the possibilities and your needs, please get in touch.