Probate can be a very complex and messy process for people who may already be reeling from the loss of a loved one. Unfortunately, it is often an unavoidable step in settling the financial affairs of someone who has passed away.
Probate court hearings can be full of surprises, complications and disputes, which is why it can be very helpful to have the support of an attorney who is experienced in California probate law. It can also be helpful to know what you might be able to expect during this time in order to be better prepared.
Basically, probate is the court process of making sure a will, if one exists, is valid and establishing how a person’s assets will be distributed.
In some cases, probate can be avoided if a person has less than $150,000 in assets. These assets include personal and real property as well as retirement benefits and insurance that is to be paid to the estate. Probate court can also potentially be avoided when property passes directly to survivors who may also have ownership in the property in question.
When probate is unavoidable, there are complicated forms that must be completed, petitions to file, hearings and determinations made by a judge in terms of who will be named as the administrator or executor of an estate. Each of these steps can present opportunities for heated arguments and legal challenges to arise, which can only make matters more difficult.
Considering how many legal issues can come up during probate and the potentially high stakes of how an estate is distributed, this can all be very overwhelming for survivors to deal with on their own. This area of the law can be one that people are generally unfamiliar with until they are in the position of going through it. Rather than learning lessons the hard way or making costly mistakes, it can be important to make use of the legal support and resources that are readily available by consulting an attorney.