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Palm Springs, CA Probate Attorneys

Experienced Probate Lawyers at Desert Law Group

When you need an experienced probate attorney you can trust in Palm Springs, CA, contact Desert Law Group. Probate is the legal process of selling an estate. When an estate goes through probate, the court system will oversee the distribution of assets to heirs. The courts also ensure all of the deceased’s debts are paid off. If a will is involved, your property is distributed as specified by that document. If you do not have a will, the court will follow state law to settle your estate. The probate process can also be used to challenge a will. The team of attorneys at Desert Law Group is here to help you work through the intricacies of probate.

How the Probate Process Works

​Despite what you may think, probate is not always a long, expensive process. Probate can be relatively fast and inexpensive, especially when your assets are under $100,000, and there is no real property in the estate and no claim by Medi-Cal, or when a surviving spouse inherits all assets and there are no child beneficiaries. In other cases, probate can be a lengthy process, averaging 16 months, depending on the complexity of the estate. Extremely complicated estates may result in years of probate. In the State of California, probate cannot be avoided. Even if there is a valid will, the estate will be subject to probate. Costs associated with probate include attorney’s fees, filing fees, and other charges, such as a bond premium. The basic process of probate consists of the following steps:

  • Filing a petition with the correct probate court
  • Giving notice to heirs under the will, or to statutory heirs if no will exists
  • Petitioning the court to appoint an administrator or executor for the estate
  • Taking inventory of your assets and having an appraisal performed
  • Paying off all legitimate estate debts
  • Selling estate assets if necessary
  • Paying remaining taxes owed by the estate
  • Distributing remaining assets to heirs as directed

Probate FAQ

Probate is complicated, but our experienced attorneys know the ins and outs of probate law and have compiled some answers to your most frequently asked questions:

What is probate?

Probate is a legal process that takes place after someone dies. Probate ensures that someone’s property and possessions are given to the correct people. The process also takes care of paying any taxes or debts that are owed. If the deceased had a will, the court will check that will to ensure it is valid and then make sure all the will’s directions are carried out.

What happens if I die without a will or trust?

If you die without a will, your assets will be frozen until the court system examines every detail of the estate. The State of California then applies its intestacy laws and makes decisions regarding where your possessions will be allocated. This process is quite time consuming but is easily avoided by merely having a will in place.

How much does it cost to probate an estate?

The costs will vary depending on how complicated your case is. In most cases, you can count on your estate paying somewhere between four and seven percent, including court fees, executor fees, attorney’s fees, accounting fees, appraisals, and business valuation fees, bond fees, and miscellaneous fees.

What happens during probate?

During probate, a person is nominated in the will to be the executor. That person files a petition to ask that they be appointed as the executor of the estate. In the case of no will, a list of persons who have priority to petition to become executor is provided by the probate code. Notices are sent to the heirs and relatives of the deceased to let them know when the hearing will take place. Any objections to the petition or contests of the validity of the will are heard and resolved. The executor will make an inventory of the estate’s assets, locating creditors, pay bills, file tax returns, and more. Several petitions are filed throughout this process, and the estate administration is eventually completed by the distribution of assets to the heirs and filing final tax returns.

What is unique about California’s probate law?

Every state has different laws as they relate to probate and estates. In California, everyone has an estate. If the deceased’s assets are only in their name, probate will be required. In the State of California, not all wills have to go through the full probate process because the law features several different probate processes. Full-probate will be necessary for large estates with complex assets, such as those with properties or bank accounts held outside of the country. If someone dies without a will in California, the legal term is dying intestate. When that occurs, that person’s assets will be distributed according to California laws. The deceased’s assets will be distributed to surviving relatives in a specific order determined by the state. A surviving spouse would inherit one-half of the deceased’s community property as well as one-half or one-third of the separate property based on whether any children were left behind.

Probate Administration FAQ

If you are in the process of planning your estate, or if you are the loved one responsible for a decedent’s estate, you may be overwhelmed by many questions regarding the probate process. Fortunately, Desert Law Group is here to provide guidance and knowledge by answering these frequently asked questions about probate process and how to avoid it. Our probate planning attorneys in Palm Springs, CA, are pleased to share their knowledge.

What Is the Purpose of Probate?

The primary purposes of probate include the following:

  • To determine the validity and existence of a will
  • To determine the beneficiaries or heirs
  • To determine who is in charge and will close the estate
  • To determine inventory and worth of assets
  • To ensure financial responsibilities are taken care of
  • To transfer the assets to the beneficiary or heirs
Do All Estates Require Probate?

The California court will process most estates. Sometimes, it can be a simpler procedure with minimal court oversight. If the decedent has placed their assets in a trust, or if the assets are payable or transferable upon death, the probate proceeding is not required.

What Assets Have to Go to Probate?

The assets owned by the decedent that go to probate include the following:

  • Assets solely owned by the deceased
  • Half of each asset owned by the deceased and their spouse without survivorship
  • The portion of an asset owned by the deceased as tenants in common with other parties
  • Unregistered personal assets, including jewelry, furniture, and more
Can I Do Probate on My Own Without an Attorney?

You can certainly handle the probate proceedings on your own. However, the probate process is intricate and time-consuming, and there are many traps for the unwary. It is recommended to seek the guidance of a trusted and trained probate attorney to handle the court process to ensure all the court filings, documentation and procedures are handled correctly.

How Long Does Probate Take in California?

Under California law, the probate process must be completed within one year of the day a representative or executor of the will of the deceased is appointed, or 18 months if tax returns are needed. Depending on contests, litigations, or court backups, the probate process may take much longer, sometimes years.

How Much Time Do I Have to File Probate?

Under the California Probate Code, the representative or executor has 30 days to lodge the will following the estate owner’s death. If the will is not filed during this period, they may waive their right as the representative or execute. Small estate affidavits cannot be filed until 40 days after the date of death.

Do I Really Have to Go Through Probate?

You will have to go through the probate process unless the deceased has placed their assets into a trust, assets have been deemed payable on death, or have a designated beneficiary. If the estate is less than a certain statutory amount, and the assets are associated with a beneficiary or surviving owner, probate may not be required.

What If The Will Is Straightforward?

Even with a straightforward will, it must be filed with the California court in the County where the owner of the estate lived. The court will have the final say in whether probate is required to ensure that the wishes outlined by the deceased are respected during the allocation of assets.

What If Someone Dies Without Leaving a Will or Trust?

Without a will or trust, assets will be frozen until the court examines the details of the estate. The State of California then applies its intestacy laws and determines where your possessions will be allocated. This process is time-consuming but can be avoided by having property planning in place.

What Assets Don’t Have to Go Through Estate Probate?

Several types of assets do not have to pass through probate, including the following:

  • Assets in a living trust
  • Assets in irrevocable trusts
  • Assets with a designated beneficiary
  • Life insurance policies with designated beneficiary
  • Retirement accounts with designated beneficiary
  • Assets that are payable on death or transfer on death
  • Assets designated to a surviving spouse
  • Jointly own assets with survivorship
Contact Desert Law Group With Any Questions

We hope we have provided you with answers to some of the common questions. If you have more questions or are in need of a qualified and dedicated team to assist you with probate administration, we’re here to help! Contact us for a complimentary consultation on your probate administration needs.

Probate Services from Desert Law Group

The best way to facilitate the probate process is to have a will drawn up. Desert Law Group’s probate services include the drafting of last wills and testaments, estate plans, and trusts. We also offer legal representation for families going through the probate process, helping them understand the process, handling much of the paperwork, and explaining their options. Probate can be a very lengthy and complicated process, but you do not have to manage it on your own. The estate planning attorneys at Desert Law Group can facilitate the process for you, ensuring all of your legal obligations are met, and you are not unnecessarily stressed by the process. Early planning is key to avoiding a messy probate process. It is crucial to create a will or establish a trust before losing mental capacity or passing away. To learn more about our probate services in Palm Springs, CA contact our office.

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