San Francisco Bay Area Probate Lawyer
Nothing is more difficult than losing a loved one. During this time of grief, our team understands that no one wants to try to navigate the complexities of legal, financial, or tax implication of probate and estate administration. Our mission is to help you effortlessly navigate the probate process through our team’s comprehensive legal advice and guidance. Throughout the probate process, we use an educational approach, which will give you a clear and concise understanding of each step of the process.
California Probate and Trust, PC handles all aspects of probate around the Bay Area and throughout California. We have designed our worry-free Probate solution to help families navigate the legal process with minimal effort, so you can focus on the things or people that matter.
- No stress.
- No paperwork.
- No court forms.
- No court meetings.
Call (916) 432-1494 Today
Bay Area Probate Lawyer
Probate is a long legal process, which can often last over a year. This process has a multitude of critical rules and regulations for your specific state, county, and even the judge has probate-specific legal boundaries to adhere to.
Our mission is to make this process feel as painless as possible by completing all the necessary paperwork and attending all scheduled court hearings on your behalf. We want to make your life easy, make probate easy, and get you past this quickly.
Dustin MacFarlane and the team at California Probate and Trust, PC have dedicated their careers to helping California residents with their legal needs pertaining to Wills, Trusts, and Probates. We have worked with thousands of Californians just like you. With a dedicated focus on estate planning, we have over a decade of successfully helping our clients navigate the complexities of the Probate legal process and helping them deal with their loved one’s estate.
The legal team at California Probate and Trust, PC will guide you through the process, ensuring that you meet your legal obligations, settle the estate’s debt, and finally honor your loved one’s wishes. We proudly help clients throughout San Francisco and the surrounding areas. We are here to support you in tackling legal questions, honoring your loved one’s wishes, and settling their estate properly and efficiently. Don’t take this on alone, contact our Bay Area probate attorneys for help.
Real Clients, Real Reviews
THE PROBATE PROCESS
- Understanding Local Probate Laws and Using The Correct Legal Documents
First, you need to know the state’s requirements and the local County and court’s rules. You need to use the most up-to-date court documents and the required local court forms.
- File the Paperwork To the Court & Proper Documentation
You must lodge the Will in court. The petition must be filed. Generally, you want to move quickly, so you also request a hearing within 30 days. But doing so means you need to move fast with publication, notice, and bond (if required).
- The Court Appoints an Executor of the Estate
When the paperwork and other documents are done properly, the judge can appoint an executor. If the paperwork or other documents are done incorrectly then the process can be delayed 6+ months.
- Pay Your Family Member’s Creditors and Audit Their Estate
Next, the probate court waits for the decedent’s creditors to try to get paid. The creditors have four months to make a claim for payment. Once the creditors are notified and paid, the executor conducts an inventory and appraisal of the estate. All other debts and taxes are also paid.
- Petition The Court to Distribute and Close the Estate
Finally, you may be ready to close the estate. Now we will need to prepare a 25-page Petition to Distribute and Close the Probate. Due to the complexity, and the meticulousness of the process, most people prefer to have an experienced probate attorney prepare this document. Our attorney will work with the executor to ensure the probate process runs smoothly. The executor’s job is to sign paperwork and provide some essential information. We’ll do the rest.
Frequently Asked Questions about California Probate Proceedings
Below are a few of the most common questions asked of our San Francisco Probate Lawyers.
Some assets are generally NOT subject to probate in California. If you leave any such assets to your beneficiaries, they will receive them upon your death without the requirement of the Probate process.
- Assets owned by a Trust
- Assets owned by an LLC or a Corporation
- Jointly owned Real Estate with other Joint Tenants
- Jointly owned Real Estate with your spouse as Community Property (must say “community property” on the statement or on the deed)
- Jointly owned financial accounts
- Life insurance that identifies the name of the beneficiary
- Payable on Death assets (POD)
- Transfer on Death assets (TOD)
Probates are rarely simple. Some face tax issues, questions about the Will, financial asset problems, debt, and the occasional unhappy family member. Without proper legal guidance, the probate process could last for years, and your loved one’s last wishes might not be honored.
The most significant consequence of a mistake during probate is time; lost time. This is because you generally cannot just “fix” the mistake. Instead, you need to schedule another hearing. Most Probate courts are very busy, and the next available hearing date could be three to five months away. Lost time is the enemy. Time gives creditors more opportunity to file a claim. It provides more time for family members to contest. Real estate or stock markets may change, causing lost profits. We have worked with hundreds of families just like yours. And while mistakes can occur, we do everything possible to avoid mistakes. Because we understand that you want this wrapped up as quickly as possible, that’s what we do.
If an estate goes through Probate, the Probate records and documents are available and open to the public. This includes your Will, your assets, and all your debts. Your children’s names, dates of birth, addresses, and phone numbers. The whole world will know exactly how much money you left each child. The world will also learn how much you owe in back taxes, credit cards, and other debts. Your whole life will become public information.
If you want to keep your affairs private, you can use a Trust instead. A Trust allows you to distribute your assets without going through Probate, keeping the proceedings confidential. California Probate and Trust, PC will review the benefits of a Will and a Trust during our initial discovery meeting. Then, you can determine which path you want to take when creating your estate plan.
To avoid probate in California, the gross value of an estate must be no larger than $184,500. (For deaths before April 1, 2022, the minimum gross value of an estate requiring probate was anything over $166,250.) Understand that this is gross, not net value. For example, if you die today owning a house valued at $500,000, with a loan of $400,000, the equity in the home is $100,000. But for probate purposes, the gross value of $500,000 will trigger the requirement of the probate. Furthermore, executor and legal fees are based on a percentage of the gross value. This means that executor and legal fees are higher even though the amount of equity is modest.
Estates valued below these amounts do not have to go through probate. However, you must file a Small Estate Affidavit and still have to go to court and get a judge’s signature. This affidavit must be signed under oath and must include real estate property. If you’re unsure if your estate will need to go through probate, California Probate and Trust, PC can examine your case and provide legal guidance.
Are You Facing a Probate? Do you have additional Probate questions?
We are proudly serving the San Francisco Bay Area. Our law offices are open weekdays from 8-5, and we offer a free consultation to help you understand the next steps.