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Trust and inheritance may seem like the same option, but they’re completely different from one another. Inheritance means assets that will be inherited by the heirs of the deceased person typically through the probate process. 

While Trust is a fiduciary arrangement in which the owner of assets (grantor) puts everything in the Trust by transferring its legal rights. Grantors also create a legal document that describes how the assets should be used, and who will be the beneficiaries and trustee. 

The noticeable point of the Trust is, trust property doesn’t go through probate. This is why it’s considered a safe and time-saving process, but is it really? We’ll answer this question below with our detailed guide about “Trust vs Inheritance.” So let’s get into the details.

What’s Trust? An Overview 

A Trust is a legal arrangement established between two parties: the grantor and the Trust itself. The grantor, who is the legal owner of assets, transfers the rights of the assets to the Trust and then the Trust holds the property. 

Within this arrangement, a trustee is also appointed to manage the Trust and its assets. To manage the Trust, the grantor creates a legal document that sets out rules and regulations to manage the assets and who’ll be the beneficiary and how they’ll inherit the assets. 

There are two main types of Trust: revocable and irrevocable. Revocable Trust agreement can be changed, like the beneficiary’s name, trustee, and the rules. However, this can’t happen with the Irrevocable Trust; and it can’t be changed by the grantor once it’s created. 

What’s Inheritance? An Overview 

Inheritance means the assets and money someone has left behind after their death. This process is often governed by Will in which the deceased person has nominated the beneficiaries and how much property they’ll inherit. 

The property included in the Will goes through probate, a legal procedure overseen by a probate court. During probate, the court ensures the validity of the Will and facilitates the transfer of assets according to the decedent wishes. 

If someone passes away without a Will, their inheritance is distributed based on the laws of intestate. In such cases, the probate court determines the rightful heirs and distributes the assets in accordance with the legal guidelines.

5 Key Differences Between Trust Vs. Inheritance 

Below are the five key-differences between Trust and Inheritance. You can read about these differences and make an informed decision about which one is the best option for your estate matters.  

1. Legal Structure 

The main difference between Trust and Inheritance is the legal structure. A Trust is a legal entity, in which a grantor transfers the assets legal rights to the name of Trust and sets the rules and regulation for the Trustee. 

On the other hand, inheritance refers to the assets (no legal status). When it comes to inheritance, who will inherit and what will inherit, remain unspecified unless the deceased individual left behind a Will naming the beneficiaries and the assets. 

2. Flexibility of Changing Terms & Beneficiaries 

Trust has two main types and one of them is Revocable Trust. The specialty of this Trust is it provides flexibility, its terms can be modified, as well as the beneficiaries and the Trustee according to the wishes of Grantor. 

Inheritance lacks the legal entity status. If there’s a Will, then the transfer of estate rights will be easier but in the absence of the Will, there’s no flexibility. The court will decide the beneficiaries and divide the estate as per the law not by the wishes of the decedent. 

3. Proper Guideline & Control 

The reason most individuals prefer Trust is because of the power it provides to the grantor. A grantor can set out proper guidelines and control everything about how assets will be sold, or manage, who’ll be the administer of the estate even after death.

You can also control the inheritance transfer process with Will. But if you don’t have a Will, things will get complicated. In that case, the law decides who gets your estate, and it might not be what you wanted, leaving you with no control. 

4. Safety From Probate Case 

Whether you’re aware of it or not, all of your inheritance will go through a legal process called probate, even if you’ve left a will. This process is a necessary step in inheritance cases and the main issue with probate is that it usually takes about six months to a year to complete.

However, individuals who have placed assets in a Trust don’t have to worry about probate. Assets held in a trust are owned by the Trust itself. Since only assets owned by the deceased individual go through probate, assets in a Trust are safe from the probate.

5. Security For The Assets

Inheritance is divided through two ways either Will or the according to State laws. Neither of these methods offers security for the assets. In fact, one of the first tasks the court undertakes is to settle any outstanding debts owed to creditors and taxes owed to the government.

In contrast, Trusts provide a shield against such problems. This is because any debts and taxes owed are associated with the deceased individual, and if a property is held within their name, these obligations are settled using the assets from the estate.

Assets held in a Trust are not in the name of the deceased, so they remain safe from such claims, providing a higher level of security. This is why legal experts suggest creating a Trust with the help of an experienced Trust attorney rather than a Will. 

Trust Vs. Inheritance: Final Thoughts 

Trust means a fiduciary relationship between the Trust and the grantor while inheritance means the assets someone has left behind. If the assets are held in the Trust everything will be managed according to the terms stated by the grantor. 

However, in the inheritance case the assets will be distributed as per the guidelines of the Will. When there’s no Will, the State law comes into rescue and the court decides the beneficiaries and distributes the property accordingly. 

While the choice ultimately rests with you, it’s worth noting that opting for a Trust is a more secure option than a Will for inheritance transfer. Trusts provide protection from creditors and taxes, and their assets rights can be transferred to the heirs without the long probate process.

Trust and Will are both ways to distribute an estate after death. A Will is a legal document that describes who will inherit the assets, while a Trust involves transferring your assets to a trustee so the trustee can transfer it after death according to the wishes of the deceased.

A person who has assets can choose any option between these two and nominate the beneficiaries for the estate. But what will happen if a person leaves both a will and trust behind for the family? 

Does a will  override a trust in Northern California? We’ll answer this question below, and will also discuss which option is better and who needs a trust instead of a will. The answer to these questions will provide guidance as you make important decisions regarding your estate.

What’s A Trust? Overview

A Trust is a legal framework that is quite different from the traditional way of transferring assets. Trust means the individual (grantor) who owns assets grants the other party (the trustee) the rights to hold and manage assets and pass them to the beneficiaries after the grantor’s death.

The benefit of creating a Trust is that the property held under the Trust name won’t go into probate court. This is because the assets will be under the name of the Trust, not the grantor who has died. 

Since the assets don’t have to go through probate court, it will save a lot of time and money typically spent on probate lawyers. The trustee will transfer the property as per the wishes of the deceased person to the beneficiaries.

What’s A Will? Overview

A Will is completely opposite to a Trust. Creating a Will means creating a legal document that’s signed by witnesses and meets all legal requirements. It outlines who will inherit estate from the family, friends, and so forth after death.

The reason individuals don’t choose Will is because it goes through the probate process. The executor nominated in the Will files the case in probate court, and the process begins to validate the Will and its transfer process.

The probate process usually takes six months to a year or even more if the case is complicated. After the Will is validated, the executor will evaluate the property and begin the process of distributing assets.

Does A Will Override Trust In Northern California? Trust Vs. Will

No, a Will can’t override a Trust in Northern California. This is because the Trust, being a separate legal entity, will hold ownership of assets. Therefore, upon the death of the Trust creator, the assets within the Trust pass to the beneficiaries without the need for probate.

However, there are instances where a Will may affect assets held in a Trust. For example, assets not properly transferred into the Trust during the Trust creator’s lifetime may be subject to the terms of the Will and go through probate.

To avoid confusion between Trusts and Wills, legal experts suggest a Pour-Over Will. This legal document means all property not in the Trust’s name—real estate, businesses, etc.—will be transferred to the Trust upon the owner’s death. 

The Pour-Over Will solves the issue of probate easily. Once the property goes to the Trust’s name, the trustee will transfer the assets to the beneficiaries included in the Trust document, following the instructions laid out by the Trust creator.

Does A Will Override An Irrevocable Trust?

An Irrevocable Trust is a type of Trust in which the grantor can’t change anything once the Trust is created legally. Everything under the Trust’s name will go to the trustee who’ll manage it. Hence, a Will cannot override an Irrevocable Trust. 

Similarly, the principle applies to a Revocable Trust. In a Revocable Trust, the grantor retains the ability to modify or revoke the Trust during their lifetime. If the grantor has taken assets out of the Trust, then they can be subject to the content of the Will. 

However, if assets are properly transferred into the Trust—be it revocable or irrevocable—and held within it at the time of the grantor’s death, they will typically be governed by the terms of the Trust rather than the Will.

What Is Better, A Will Or A Trust?

Both a Trust and a Will are suitable for distributing wealth, but there are some differences that make a Trust a better option. The biggest difference is that Trust assets don’t go through the long probate process. 

Trusts offer tax benefits, and the assets are free from creditors’ claims. The grantor can create a Trust for conditions such as illness or disability and decide who will make decisions on their behalf. All of these benefits make a Trust a preferred option for many individuals.

Final Words

Does a Will override a Trust in Northern California? No, a Will can’t override a Trust because only assets held in the deceased person’s name are subject to the Will’s content. If there’s a Trust, it means the assets are under the Trust’s name. 

Since the assets aren’t under the deceased person’s name, the Trust property can’t be disputed. However, it’s important to note that if assets are removed from the Trust’s ownership prior to the grantor’s passing, then the situation may change.

Estate distribution is not an easy task, and many factors need to be considered for this process. Such factors include whether the deceased person left a will, the number of surviving siblings, and their relationships (whether they’re step-siblings or biological siblings). 

Once all important factors are taken into account, the next challenge is how to fairly divide the inheritance among the siblings. But you don’t need to worry anymore, as we’ll explain everything about the estate distribution among siblings. 

We’ll address the key questions: how to divide an estate between siblings in Northern California and whether the siblings are legal heirs or not. If yes, then in what conditions can siblings inherit the estate. So let’s get started!

How Does California Inheritance Work? Will Vs. No Will Case 

Like any other state, the inheritance distribution operates through two primary methods. Either the estate will be distributed as per the Will or the court will distribute the assets among the beneficiaries as per California intestate law

The intestate law in California follows a specific order of priority. The court prioritizes immediate family members over extended relatives. For instance, if the deceased individual is survived by a spouse, children, and grandchildren, the estate will typically be divided among them. 

However, in cases where the decedent was unmarried, had no children, and both parents are deceased, the court will divide the estate among siblings. And if there are no surviving siblings, the court may consider nieces and nephews in the distribution process.

The Order of Inheritance Without A Will

You can read the priority order of California intestate law below: 

  1. Spouse
  2. Children
  3. Grandchildren
  4. Parents
  5. Siblings
  6. Nieces and Nephews
  7. Grandparents
  8. Aunts and Uncles
  9. Cousins

Should Inheritance Be Distributed Equally Between Siblings?

If the deceased person has not left a Will and siblings are the beneficiaries according to the priority order, inheritance will be distributed equally among them. However, the presence of a Will can change this distribution. 

A Will allows a person to specify their wishes regarding the distribution of their assets. Some people may opt for equal shares among siblings, while others may choose to allocate a larger portion to a specific sibling. 

If the Will specifies a decision to allocate 50% of the inheritance to a particular sister or brother, the assets will be divided accordingly. While in the absence of Will, the court will adhere to equal distribution among siblings.

How To Divide Estate Equally Between Siblings?

The division of estate equally can be done through various ways. First thing that’s important to consider is what type of assets are left behind in the estate. For example, if someone has left about $500,000 in the bank account, the money will be equally distributed among the siblings. 

Complications may arise when the estate includes real estate holdings. Some siblings may like to sell the property while the others want to retain ownership. This situation is quite complicated as the property is one and all beneficiaries have different ideas about its management. 

There are a few options that can be followed in the situation of dispute about real estate assets. The siblings can have an open discussion with each other about the options and can decide which one suits them.

  • Selling The Real Estate: The best way to divide the real estate or any other asset between siblings is by selling them. The administrator will do the property valuation and oversee the sale process. Once the property is sold, the money will be divided among the siblings after clearing the debts and all other dues (if any).
  • Co-Ownership of The Real Estate: All siblings can choose to become co-owner of the real estate. In such cases, it’s crucial to establish a legal agreement with the help of an experienced lawyer. This agreement should outline management responsibilities, decision-making processes, and protocols for potential future sale of the property.
  • Buyout of The Siblings Share: If one or two siblings are emotionally attached to the real estate or property and prefer not to sell, they have the option to buy out the shares of the other siblings.
  • Dividing The Real Estate Land: The land can be divided among the siblings physically but this option comes with challenges. All siblings need to agree upon this decision, and the land has to be sufficiently large to be physically divided.

Do Step-Siblings Get Inheritance?

No, step-siblings don’t have the same right as the biological or legally adopted siblings of decedent parents when it comes to inheritance. As per California law, step-siblings are only entitled to the estate in specific conditions. 

The conditions are if the step-siblings are nominated as beneficiaries in the Will decedent has left. The next situation is if step-siblings were adopted legally by the decedent parents and have a good sibling relationship throughout life. 

Another condition that can be counted is if there’s no blood relative alive in the immediate and the extended family. The same case is for foster siblings; they’re also not considered beneficiaries unless they were legally adopted by the parents.

Final Words

In short, the answer to how to divide an estate between siblings in Northern depends on the situation of the assets and the presence of Will. In case the deceased person has left Will, the assets will be distributed accordingly. 

No Will means the court will intervene to determine the beneficiaries in accordance with California intestate law. If the siblings are the beneficiaries as per the priority order of the California intestate law, then the assets will be divided equally among all.

Probate is a necessary process that’s done once a person dies, leaving a property. The custodian of will submits the original will to the probate clerk’s office within 30 days, and then the probate process starts. 

The court validates whether it’s a real will and genuinely reflects the deceased person’s wishes. Once the will is considered valid, the process of distributing the wealth starts. A common question that concerns everyone is, what if the probate court has an invalid or fake will? 

Can you challenge a will after probate in Northern California, or do you have to accept the court’s decision even if it’s based on the wrong will? Don’t worry; we’ll provide detailed answers to these questions below. Let’s dive in!

Can A Will Be Contested After Probate In California?

Yes, you can contest a will after the probate starts. According to the 2009 California Probate Code – Section 8270, you have up to 120 days after the will is admitted for the probate case to contest. You can submit a petition to the court to challenge the will.

However, keep in mind you must have solid evidence to build strong ground for your case. If you don’t have valid reasons that can show that the will is fake, you might not be able to contest it successfully.

What Happens After A Will Is Contested?

The outcome of a will contest case depends on the petition. For instance, if the petition involves two wills, the court will carefully review the case and determine which one is the most recent and the right one. 

In some cases, beneficiaries may claim that the person who passed away wrote the will when they weren’t mentally capable, making the will invalid. To support such a claim, the petitioner needs to provide evidence, like medical reports.

If the evidence is convincing, the court may consider the will invalid. When this happens, the court may decide there’s no valid will. In such situations, the case will follow according to succession laws in the USA, and the property will be divided among family members.

Who Can Challenge The Will In Probate?

Not everyone can challenge the will once the probate case begins. There are specific criteria determining who has the right to contest the will and who does not. Here’s a quick overview of the eligibility criteria.

  • Legal Beneficiaries: In case there’s a will, any beneficiaries whose name is included in it can contest the will in court. 
  • Blood Relatives: Immediate family members who believe the will is fake or if there’s no will left by the deceased person can also contest it.

4 Reasons To Challenge The Probate In Northern California

The reasons you mention in your petition to contest the will are crucial. You can’t challenge a will just because your name isn’t included as a beneficiary – you need solid reasons. Here are some valid reasons if you want to contest the will:

1. Multiple Wills

The most solid reason to challenge a will is when there are two different wills. In such situations, the court examines both wills and their content. The court then decides which is the correct will and should be followed. 

2. Fraud Or Forgery

Each will include the executor’s name; they’re individuals who have the responsibility to distribute the property as per will. Unfortunately, sometimes executors attempt fraud by using a fake or old will. You have a strong reason to contest the will if you suspect anything like this.

3. Lack of Mental Capacity

A will should be written when the person is mentally sound. If you discover the deceased person wrote the will when they were not mentally capable of making important decisions, you can contest it in court.

4. Violation of Rules 

Apart from the reasons mentioned, if the will doesn’t follow the rules – like lacking signatures of witnesses or proper procedures – it won’t be valid. As a beneficiary, if you notice anything like that, you have the right to contest the will.


In short, yes, you can contest a will after probate in Northern California. The time frame to contest a will once the probate process starts is 120 days. You can file a petition in the court stating the reasons that make the will invalid. 

Remember, the reasons must be strong, or you won’t be able to prove your claim. Furthermore, it’s important to note that only the beneficiaries and the family of the deceased person can contest the will. You can contact our probate attorney to find out more information. 

Transfer of property is a complex legal matter, especially if there’s no will that shows what the deceased person wanted. In this case, the state’s law comes in, and the matter goes into the probate courts. 

The probate courts are the courts that deal with the matter of estate. Then, the court distributes the property to the relatives such as the wife, children, parents, siblings, and so forth, as per California’s intestate succession law

Below in this article, we’ll explain the legal process of property transfer after death without a will in North California. This will help you understand the complete legal process and what you should do afterward. 

What Will Happen If A Person Dies Without A Will In North California?

A will is a legal document that individuals who have assets created to nominate who will inherit their property after their death. If there’s no will, the distribution of assets will be according to the law of the state of California. 

For example, the court will consider all legal beneficiaries like spouses, children, parents, siblings, etc. However, there will be a priority order for the beneficiaries whom the court will prefer for the assets. The list of priority orders can be read below:

  1. Spouse
  2. Children
  3. Grandchildren
  4. Parents
  5. Siblings
  6. Nieces and Nephews
  7. Grandparents
  8. Aunts and Uncles
  9. Cousins

If the deceased person has an immediate family, like a wife and children, the property will go to them. In case of no wife and children, the property will go to parents; if there are no parents or siblings, it will go to uncles/aunts or cousins.

It’s important to note that if the deceased person has community property, it will only go to the surviving spouse. The parents, siblings, and other distant relatives can only get the assets from separate property.

Difference Between Community Vs. Separate Property

The difference between community and separate property is the community property is acquired during marriage. Separate property means the assets acquired before marriage and owned by only one spouse. 

For instance, if someone passes away, leaving a spouse and parents, the assets are split this way: all community property goes entirely to the surviving spouse. While separate property would go 50% to the parents and the other 50% to the surviving spouse.

What Happens To The Non-Probate Assets? 

There are many assets that don’t go into the probate court, such as retirement accounts, life insurance policies, joint tenancy assets, POD accounts, etc. This is because these assets already have named beneficiaries, and they go to them. Here’s an example: 

Money from retirement accounts or life insurance policies goes straight to the people the deceased person named as beneficiaries. Bank accounts labeled “payable on death” also smoothly go to the people named when the account holder dies.

How Do You Go Through Probate In California Without A Will?

The first thing to initiate the probate process in California is to file the probate case in court. Remember, it should be done within 30 days of the death. To file this petition, you need a death certificate and also have to pay the court case filing fee. 

Since there’s no will present, the court will appoint someone as the estate administrator. The administrator will notify all beneficiaries, collect asset information, value the assets, gather details of debts, bills, and taxes, and will assist the court in distributing the assets.

What’s A Spouse Property Petition In California?

Spouse property petition is for the surviving spouse, who is also named as a beneficiary for specific assets. If you’re a spouse and named as a beneficiary, it’s best to file this claim as with it; you don’t have to go through the probate. 

However, there’s one important point to consider: it’s only for the assets that come under the community property or when the spouse is named as a legal beneficiary. If these conditions aren’t met, the assets will go through the probate process. 

In the probate process, the court will consider all beneficiaries and will distribute the estate as per the priority order from immediate family to distant relatives. The immediate family will be the first priority, but if there’s no one, then the assets go to distant relatives.

Final Words

Transfer of property without a will in North California is quite complicated. In case of no will, the case goes into the probate court, and the judge decides who’ll inherit the property of the deceased person as per California’s intestate succession law. 

The distribution of the property will be decided carefully. The court will consider which property comes under the community and separate property. For community property, the spouse will be considered the priority, while for separate property, all beneficiaries will be considered as priority. 

To go through the difficult process of probate smoothly, you can hire the probate lawyers of our law firm. We have experienced lawyers who’ll guide you through the complexities of probate and ensure a fair and lawful distribution of assets.

If you’re not medically fit and think that you won’t be able to make decisions in the future, it’s best to use the right of Power of Attorney. In the absence of the Power of Attorney, the court appoints a Guardianship. 

The issue with Guardianship is that a guardian will have much more power and can use them to their benefit. This is not possible with the Power of Attorney, as it allows you to choose a person and give them limited rights under specific conditions. 

In this article, we’ll shed light on how the Power of Attorney prevents abuse of Guardianship. We’ll explain what Guardianship abuse is, what can happen, and how you can save yourself from it. So, let’s get into the details!

What’s Guardianship Abuse? 

Guardianship abuse, in simple terms, is the abuse of Guardianship rights. When a person who has an estate becomes ill and cannot make decisions, the court appoints someone as a Guardian to make decisions on their behalf. 

The issue with Guardians is they have a lot of powers. They can determine whom the ward (the person who’s ill) can meet, live with, or even use the estate management rights for their benefit. One example of such an incident is the case of Douglas Hulse.

He was admitted to the hospital at the age of 80, and the court appointed a Guardian for him. The guardian had the power to make basic decisions about Douglas Hulse’s life, such as where he could live or spend money. 

Instead of taking care of him and making the best decisions, the guardian started selling his property, such as the house and other belongings. This isn’t just one case; but there are numerous similar cases. This is why the Power of Attorney makes much more sense.

How Will The Power of Attorney Protect Your Rights From Guardianship Abuse? 

Now comes the point: What’s Power of Attorney, and how can it protect your rights and estate from guardianship abuse? Power of attorney means the power to appoint someone as an attorney or agent to make decisions related to health, finance, or estate.

What makes Power of Attorney different is it doesn’t provide all rights to the agent, like Guardianship. For instance, you can make a financial POA, general POA, healthcare POA, limited POA, and so forth. 

The benefit of Power of Attorney types is that the person to whom you’ll give Power of Attorney can only make decisions as per the authority you’ve provided. Someone who has medical POA can’t make decisions about what will happen to your assets.

The best part about Power of Attorney is you can decide to whom you want to give this power, not the court. Just make sure that the person you’re appointing as Power of Attorney meets the requirements of California law.

Power of Attorney Requirement In California Law

  • Age Requirement: Both the property owner and the chosen individual for power of attorney must be 18 years or older.
  • Mental Health: The property owner must be in good mental health for the power of attorney to be considered valid. If they cannot comprehend the situation, it may not be considered valid.
  • Signature: The property owner must sign the power of attorney documents in the presence of a notary for them to be legally binding.
  • Witnesses: Two adult witnesses are required to sign the papers in the presence of a notary to validate the power of attorney.

The 6 Types of Power of Attorney 

Here are the six main types of Power of Attorney. By reading this, you’ll be able to know what the appropriate type of Power of Attorney is based on the specific needs and circumstances of your medical condition. 

1. General POA

The first main type is the general POA. This type of Power of Attorney gives broad authority to the attorney or agent to make decisions on your behalf for finance or business-related issues. This will be terminated if you die or become incapacitated. 

2. Medical POA

Medical Power of Attorney, as its names suggest, is for the situation when you’re not medically fit and unable to make a decision. In this situation, the person to whom you have given medical Power of Attorney will make all decisions related to health care. 

3. Limited POA

Limited Power of Attorney gives limited rights. For instance, you can authorize someone to make decisions solely related to real estate matters (not all assets). You can even add a time frame that the agent will only make decisions for a specific time. 

4. Durable POA

The durable Power of Attorney means it will remain effective even if you become incapacitated. The person who has durable POA rights will continue to make decisions just like they were making when you were fit medically. 

5. Springing POA

Springing Power of Attorney is a type of POA that can be used in specific conditions. For example, you can give the right to make financial decisions and healthcare decisions to someone in the case if you become incapacitated. 

6. Financial POA 

Financial POA solely focuses on financial matters. It allows appointed individuals to manage the property owner’s financial affairs, including banking, investments, property transactions, and so forth. 

Final Words

There’s no doubt that Power of Attorney prevents guardianship abuse. You can decide who will make decisions on your behalf, not the court, and what authority they’ll have. It allows you to give the appointed person limited power, which isn’t possible with Guardianship.

Just make sure you’re selecting the right type of Power of Attorney. If you want someone to make only financial decisions, choose financial POA; for healthcare decisions, select medical POA. Choosing the wrong option can create a lot of issues in the future.

If you don’t know the laws of California about creating Power of Attorney, you can contact our law firm, CPT (California Probate & Trust), for this purpose. Our experienced lawyers will guide you about the process of creating power of attorney.

Navigating probate cases in Northern California can be challenging, especially when a new will emerges. The first question that comes to mind in this type of situation is does a new will override an old will in Northern California. 

Legally, if a new will is found and it has a different content than the last will, everything will be according to it. However, there are exceptions. For a new will to override an old one, it must be valid and legally correct. If not, it cannot supersede the old will.

Here in this guide, we’ll explain what California laws say about the will and whether a new will cancels an old will. We’ll also touch on the subject such as the importance of notifying the executor or registering the will.

Laws of Will In California

California has some important laws about creating a will. If any will doesn’t meet the law, it won’t be considered valid and can’t override the old will. You can read the brief overview of the laws of Prob. §§6100 below: 

  • The testator must be 18 years of age or older.
  • The testator must be of sound mind.
  • Two witnesses must sign the will for its verification.

The laws above are the most basic requirements. Apart from these laws, the new will must state that the old will is no longer effective and provide detailed and specific information about who the designated beneficiary is.

Does A New Will Cancel An Old Will?

Yes, a new will can cancel the old one if it’s written correctly, has the witness’s signature, and states that the old will is no longer effective. There’s another important point, which is that the testator must be of sound mind. 

For example, if someone contested your new will on the basis that the testator was not of sound mind while writing will, the case will go in a different direction. The court will check the will’s validity with the deceased person’s medical history. 

If it’s proved that the deceased person (testator) was ill, on a deathbed, or under the influence of medicine, the new version of will not be considered authentic. However, if the testator has destroyed the old will through burning, shredding, etc, the new one will be considered valid. 

Can A Will Be Changed Without The Executor Knowing?

Yes, a will can be changed without the executor knowing but it’s advisable to keep them informed. It’s upon the testator (someone who creates the will) whether they want to change a specific part of the will or write a new will. 

Legal experts recommend informing the executor of any alterations in the will due to their responsibilities in the matter. Without knowledge of these changes, the executor may encounter difficulties filing the correct will in the probate court.

You should also share the location of where the will is stored so the executor can locate it and file for probate on time. Neglecting these steps may result in legal complications in the probate court. 

If A Will Is Not Registered, Is It Valid?

As per California law, notarization isn’t necessary for a will to be valid. Nortaziation doesn’t fulfill witness requirements; however, it can smooth the probate process. In many states, notarization of will eliminates the step of taking witnesses to court for validation. 

It’s a simple legal process in which the testator goes to a nearby notary office, presents documents like a new will and ID card, and signs them before an official. This step ensures that the will isn’t signed under anyone’s influence and is the last wish of the deceased person. 

Final Words 

Does a new will override an old will in Northern California? Yes, if the new will has been written properly and meets all requirements of laws, it can override the old will easily. Just remember, it’s important to write that the old will is invalid on the new will to prove its authenticity. 

Any testator who fails to meet the criteria won’t be considered valid. That’s why it’s best to consult a last will and testament attorney. They’ll guide you about the proper process and what you should do to revoke an old will. 

Hiring an attorney isn’t as easy a task as it may seem. Not every attorney is well-versed in the intricacies of probate law, and finding the right professional to guide you through the complexities of probate proceedings is crucial.

The only way to determine whether an attorney can handle your probate case is by discussing your situation and asking the right questions. An attorney who provides accurate and helpful answers, addressing your concerns and confusion, will be the best match for you.

To assist you in this crucial decision-making process, we’ll share the seven essential questions to ask before hiring a probate attorney. The answers to these questions will not only shed light on the attorney’s expertise but also empower you to make an informed decision. 

7 Critical Questions To Ask Your Potential Probate Attorney 

Here are the seven critical questions to ask your potential probate attorney. Remember, these questions are only the minimum and basic criteria. You can add as many questions as you want related to your case. 

1. How Long Has The Attorney Been Practicing Probate Law?

The first question to ask is how long the attorney has been practicing probate law. Keep in mind that not every attorney is an expert in probate law cases, and the attorney you might be choosing could have only a few cases experience, which can be a downside. 

Check how much experience they have with probate cases. If they just started practicing probate law, it might be better to find someone else. Experience matters to make sure your lawyer knows what they’re doing.

2. What Is the Primary Focus Area of Your Practice?

After making sure your attorney has been practicing probate law, find out what the primary focus areas of practice are. Probate law is a big niche that covers many legal areas like estate planning, trust administration, wills, tax planning, power of attorney and so forth.  

It’s best to hire a probate attorney who’s experienced and has been focusing on the same area of your case. For example, if your case is about the disagreement of will, you should prefer an attorney who has been dealing with the same cases. 

3. Have You Successfully Executed The Same Cases In The Past?

Now, the third question should be about whether they’ve successfully executed the cases in the past or not. Knowing whether an attorney has successfully executed wills in the past is crucial for evaluating their competence in handling similar cases.

If the attorney replies yes, you can ask more questions, such as what the results of similar cases were. This way, you can gain insights into their ability to navigate the intricacies of will execution and provide assurance that your case will be in capable hands.

4. How Does The Probate Process Work?

You may have got all the info from the internet about how the probate process works, but it’s best to ask the attorney this question. It’s not to check the attorney’s knowledge but to understand the process better. 

The knowledge you got from the internet is general, but your attorney will tell you everything per your case. Your attorney will break down the probate process into understandable steps, outlining how assets are distributed, debts are settled, and legal matters are resolved. 

5. How Do You Charge For Your Services?

The fifth question is about how the probate attorney will charge for the services for the case. As per California law, Prob Code 10800, the attorney will get a specific percentage according to the gross value of the estate. For example: 

  • 4% on the first $100,000
  • 3% on the next $100,000
  • 2% on the next $800,000
  • 1% on the next $9,000,000
  • 0.5% on the next $15,000,000
  • Above $25,000,000, the court will decide 

However, it’s best to ask questions about the charges. Also, don’t forget to discuss the charges of court fees and other expenses that are not included in the attorney fee. Clarifying these financial aspects ensures transparency and helps you make well-informed decisions. 

6. How Long Does A Typical Probate Case Take?

The question of how long a typical probate case takes is also crucial. While the duration can vary based on factors such as case complexity and court schedules, asking this question provides insight into the attorney’s ability to outline a reasonable timeline.

It will help you get ready for what can happen in the future. You will not have unrealistic expectations that the case will be solved in minimum time. Besides everything, you can plan and navigate the probate process with a clearer understanding. 

7. What Can I Anticipate Throughout The Probate Process?

You can ask your attorney what the results of the probate can be and what you should expect. While no attorney can give an exact answer, they can tell how strong your case is and what the chances of winning are. 

By knowing the details about the case and what can happen, you can prepare yourself for the upcoming challenges. This comprehensive overview allows you to approach each stage with confidence and also shows how confident the attorney is. 


Asking the right questions is your gateway to understanding whether an attorney can handle your probate case effectively. A good attorney always provides accurate and helpful answers that align with your needs and concerns.

If you feel your attorney is failing to answer your question and can’t help you clear your mind, it’s best to consult your case with other attorneys. You can also contact probate lawyers from our firm; we offer a free consultation for our clients. 

If you’re a probate administrator appointed by the court and want to know, does the administrator of an estate get paid in Northern California? This is the right blog that answers all your relevant questions regarding this topic. 

A probate administrator is a person whom the court appoints after the death of someone. It’s only in the case that someone dies without nominating a person, whether it’s from family or friends as an executive. 

One of the biggest misconceptions people have is that the administrator of the estate doesn’t get paid, which isn’t true. Today, we’ll explain how much the administrator of an estate gets paid as per Northern California law and for which duties. 

Administrator Fee As Per California State Law

When the court appoints an administrator for the estate matter, the fee will be paid according to the law. As per California probate code section 10800 administrators get paid as per the total value of the estate. Here’s the overview of the percentage: 

  • 4% on the first $100,000.
  • 3% on the next $100,000.
  • 2% on the next $800,000.
  • 1% on the next $9,000,000.
  • 0.5% on the next $15,000,000. 
  • For amounts over $25,000,000, the court determines a reasonable fee.

Suppose the total value of the estate is $500,000. According to the California Probate Code Section 10800, the administrator fee would be calculated as follows: 

  • 4% on the first $100,000: $100,000 x 4% = $4,000
  • 3% on the next $100,000: $100,000 x 3% = $3,000
  • 2% on the next $300,000: $300,000 x 2% = $6,000

Adding these amounts together, the total administrator fee for an estate valued at $500,000 would be $13,000.

How To Become An Estate Administrator In Northern California?

An executor is nominated by the deceased person in a will. While an administrator is appointed by the court in case no one is nominated for the executor role. The person who wants to become an administrator has to file an application in the probate court. 

Once the application has been received, the court hearings will begin. In the court proceedings, the judge evaluates the administrator’s application to determine whether the person can fulfill the duties and responsibilities of administering the estate.

The judge considers factors such as the applicant’s relationship to the deceased, financial responsibility, and ability to manage the estate impartially. If the court approves the application, the appointed individual receives the legal authority of the administrator. 

What Are The Duties of An Estate Administrator In Northern California?

Now, let’s come to the duties of an estate adminisxtrator in Northern California. The duties are almost similar to the executioner because the purpose is the same. Below, you’ll find details about the primary duties of a probate administrator. 

1. Notify Beneficiaries

The first and main role of a probate administrator is to notify all beneficiaries or every heir of the deceased person. It’s important to note this task should be completed within 60 days of filing a probate case in the court. 

2. Property Valuation

The second primary role is to identify and evaluate the assets to find out the property’s real value so it can be distributed fairly. You can get help from experts who know the market value of the deceased person’s property. 

3. Fulfilling Probate Responsibilities

The third duty of an estate administrator is fulfilling probate responsibilities. It includes following court hearings, filing necessary documents, and communicating with heirs to make sure every beneficiary receives their fair share of the property. 

4. Settling Credit, Debt, and Taxes

The next-in-line duty is finding out details about the creditors and debtors and settling the issue using estate funds. You also have to settle tax dues for the deceased person as per the law of California’s state. 

Administrator Fee In Northern California For The Year 2024: Final Thoughts 

Yes, the administrator of an estate gets paid in Northern California as per the law. The administrators handling larger estates will receive substantial compensation compared to those overseeing smaller ones. 

In return for this compensation, the administrator fulfills various duties. These duties include managing the entire probate process and ensuring every heir receives the rightful share in the property as per the deceased person’s wishes or by law (in the absence of a will). 

Securing your home for your beneficiaries through a trust is a wise decision. Specifically if you want to save the beneficiaries from the years of the probate process. Some individuals don’t go for this option because they think it’s difficult and unsafe, which is not true.

Trust isn’t only safe but a way better option than the traditional will and probate process. Not to forget, a trust doesn’t require your beneficiaries to spend a lot of money on lawyers. All in all, it’s beneficial in all aspects. 

That’s why we’ve come up with this guide, which is all about how to put a home in a trust in California. We’ll break down the entire process in  three simple steps to make sure your family gets what they should without a lot of hassle.

Can I Put My House In A Trust In California?

Yes, you can put your house or any type of property, cash, or bank account in a trust in California as long as it’s yours. Once you transfer the home to a trust, the legal ownership right will go to the “trustee” and you’ll become the “grantor.”

A trustee is a person who manages the property and passes it to the beneficiaries according to your wishes after your death. What’s beneficial about a trust is there’s no need for a long legal court process. The trustee you select will transfer the property right to the nominees.

Is Legal Assistance Necessary When Putting Your Home In A Trust?

While it’s not mandatory to hire an estate lawyer to put a home in a trust, having one can be helpful for several reasons. A lawyer can provide valuable guidance and ensure all necessary steps are taken correctly. 

For example, transferring your home to someone else is a difficult process and requires your attention to detail. You first need to understand the law of the California states, then have to fund the trust accordingly, but your lawyer can do it for you easily. 

How Do I Put My Home In A Trust? Steps To Follow 

You can read the process of how you can put the home in trust in California below. We’ve explained all the steps in detail with clear guidelines, including information on different types of trusts. 

1. Choose The Types of Trust 

Before we go further into the details of starting a trust, it’s important to understand its types. There are many types of trust, but the main ones are two: revocable and irrevocable trust. Both types are different in terms of flexibility and control for the grantor. 

  • Revocable Trust: As the name suggests, revocable trust means you, as the grantor of the trust, can cancel the allocation of the property anytime during your life. You can also modify the trust document according to your wishes. 
  • Irrevocable Trust: In an irrevocable trust, the grantor has no right to amend, even if you’re still alive. If you want to modify anything, you must ask permission from the beneficiaries who own the assets. 

2. Create A Trust 

After selecting the type, you need to create a trust. It’s best to hire an experienced lawyer for this task. Otherwise, you can create documents with a free revocable living trust builder. Just make sure to add correct information and select the trustee carefully. 

  • Trustee: Anyone can be a trustee, including your family members, friends, lawyer, or someone you trust including you. If you decide to choose yourself as a trustee, you’ll be the legal owner of the house, and after you, the trustee position will go to the successor you nominated in your life. 
  • Beneficiaries: Decide the beneficiaries of your trust. As an owner of the home, you have a right to nominate anyone within your family or friends. You can even add the name of charity organizations. 
  • Define Terms: Make sure to define terms (only if you want). For example, you can add which child gets the house and when, like if they graduate or reach a specific age like 25, 30, etc. 
  • Sign Agreement: Consider all the points we’ve discussed above, including trustees and beneficiaries and create trust with the help of a lawyer. Afterward, sign the agreement to make it valid. 

3. Change The Home Ownership 

Once you create the trust, it’s time to change the home ownership. The process of putting your home in a trust is a bit difficult because every state has laws regarding the change of real estate ownership. 

According to California law, you must prepare a deed to transfer the right to your house to the trust. This deed should include all information like your name and to whom you want to transfer. You also need to pay the transfer fee to the local municipality office. 

Later on, sign the deed in the presence of a notary so the transfer of property can be recorded legally. After all of this process, your house will be transferred to the “trust,” and the legal owner will be the “trustee” you nominated. 


We’ve explained the process of how to put a home in a trust in California in detail. It’s not a difficult process especially if you have a good lawyer on your side. A lawyer will assist you in transferring your ownership rights of home and creating a trust. 

You can contact a trust attorney from our California Probate and Trust firm. We also offer free consultation calls. Just make sure to fill out the “request for free consultation form” on the website, and our team will promptly reach out to assist you.