California Probate Lawyer

Probate Lawyers Help Clients Navigate Probate Administration Throughout California

The California probate code is voluminous and complex and can be difficult for an inexperienced personal representative to navigate—especially in the wake of the traumatic loss of a loved one or close friend. Both federal and state laws, as well as case law, often must be considered in order to successfully proceed through probate in California. Although probate would be avoided altogether in the ideal case, it is often not possible to avoid—but with the help of an experienced probate lawyer, you can minimize conflicts and work to avoid probate litigation.

The probate experience is, unfortunately, often unpleasant, and the primary goal upon entering probate should be to move as efficiently and swiftly as possible through the process. If you have been named personal representative of a loved one’s estate, contact an experienced probate lawyer to obtain the advice needed to accomplish these goals and exit probate as quickly as possible under the circumstances.

When is Probate Necessary Under California Law?

Under California Probate Code Section 13100, only estates that are valued at more than $150,000 are required to go through the probate process. This amount is adjusted from time to time, so it is important to consult with a probate lawyer to determine whether an estate that you are administering must go through probate. Despite this firm cap, several types of assets are excluded from probate because of the ownership structure of those assets, including:

  • Property owned in a joint tenancy with a third party,
  • Property owned as survivorship community property with the deceased individual’s surviving spouse,
  • Certain property that has been placed in a properly structured living trust or revocable living trust,
  • Property held in certain types of “payable on death” or joint accounts, such as bank accounts or CDs where the deceased individual has specified that a particular beneficiary will receive the account upon his or her death,
  • IRAs, 401(k)s, life insurance and other types of accounts that designate a beneficiary who will receive the assets upon the owner’s death.

The probate process can also be simplified when the assets are inherited by a surviving spouse in situations where the decedent and surviving spouse did not own the property jointly.

The personal representative of an estate generally has the duty to organize and inventory all of the deceased individual’s assets—a process known as “marshaling”. He or she is then required to file the inventory of all assets that will be subject to probate with the probate court, along with an appraisal.

An Experienced Probate Lawyer Can Help Streamline California’s Probate Process

Probate in California presents many opportunities for an inexperienced executor to make a mistake that could result in delays, additional expenses or conflict. At the Law Offices of Darrell C. Harriman, our experienced probate team has successfully handled hundreds of probate cases and is well-versed in the potential complications that can arise in these cases. If you have been named personal representative of an estate and are feeling overwhelmed or confused by the probate process, contact our office to help evaluate your case today.

The Law Offices of Darrell C. Harriman is Here to Help With Your Probate Case

Questions about the California probate rules can arise at any point during the probate process. Even if you have already filed the initial probate paperwork, contact an experienced probate lawyer if you have questions or concerns with how your probate case is proceeding. Our skilled probate lawyer is here to help. Fill out our online contact form to schedule a confidential consultation with our seasoned probate lawyer today. Our office is conveniently located at 8912 Haskell Ave., North Hills, CA 91343.

About California

California is the most highly populated state in the United States, with about 39.5 million residents, and is the third-largest state by land area. The Los Angeles area and San Francisco Bay Area are some of the most heavily populated areas of California. California is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west, Oregon to the north, Nevada, and Arizona to the east and Mexico to the south.

The climate can vary dramatically throughout California, with a warm Mediterranean climate that dominates the southern regions of the state and desert conditions in the inland portions of the state, as well as snowy mountains. California also has the largest economy in the country, at about $2.8 trillion—in fact, the California economy is larger than most countries in the world.

FAQ: How are creditors’ claims handled in the California probate administration process?

The executor or personal representative of the estate is legally obligated to notify any identifiable creditors of their right to make a claim against the estate. In some cases, the personal representative will pay any outstanding bills so that there is no need for creditors to make a formal claim. Creditors legally have four months from the date they are notified to make a claim against the estate. If the estate is sufficiently liquid, the executor usually has the authority to evaluate claims and make payments out of estate assets. In other cases, the executor may be required to obtain approval to sell assets to satisfy creditors’ claims. California state law also provides an order in which creditors are to be paid if insufficient assets exist to satisfy all creditors in full.

FAQ: How much does a probate lawyer in California cost?

California has specific laws that allow lawyers to charge a set amount in a probate administration case. In general, a lawyer will cost 4 percent of the first $100,000 in estate assets, 3 percent of the second $100,000, 2 percent of the next $800,000, 1 percent of the next $9 million, and 0.5 percent of the next $15 million. If the estate is valued at more than $25 million, a court-approved fee that is deemed to be reasonable can be charged. While the statutory fees provide simplicity and clarity for what are considered ordinary estate service, lawyers may charge a flat fee or charge by the hour for work on the estate that is classified as extraordinary services. In general, these fees will vary according to the complexity of the specific probate case.