Southern California Probate Lawyer

Probate Administration Lawyers Provide Compassionate Legal Help for Inexperienced Executors in Southern California

All estates of Southern California decedent’s that are valued at more than $150,000 are required to go through a lengthy and complex probate administration process if the decedent failed to take adequate steps to shield assets from probate during life. While probate can be avoided by creating various types of trusts during the individual’s life, and certain exceptions may apply, the reality is that many individuals fail to take important planning steps to shield valuable assets from probate before death. This may come as a surprise to a deceased individual’s family and loved ones, who may be inexperienced and unprepared to act as the estate’s personal representative or executor alone.

Unfortunately, the probate process in Southern California is anything but simple. An experienced probate lawyer can help you minimize the inefficiencies that are all too common in the probate administration process, and can also help in resolving any conflicts that may arise during the probate period. Probate can be a lengthy process, and our experienced probate team works tirelessly to ensure that the process runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

What Every Executor Should Know About Probate in Southern California

Probate in Southern California is a formal legal process designed to “close” the deceased individual’s estate so that all liabilities can be satisfied, and the remaining assets can be distributed to the decedent’s beneficiaries. The executor acts as a fiduciary throughout the probate administration process, which means that he or she has certain duties and a responsibility to refrain from taking advantage of the position of executor to profit personally.

An experienced probate administration lawyer can help an executor understand his or her role and duties, which include:

  • Filing a petition for probate,
  • Notifying potential estate beneficiaries of the dates of any probate hearings,
  • Publishing the probate notice in a newspaper, and filing proof of such publication with the court,
  • Creating an inventory and obtaining appraisals of the estate’s assets by a probate referee,
  • Creating an inventory of the decedent’s debts, which can include going through the decedent’s personal files, mail and electronic accounts,
  • Notifying creditors of their right to make claims against the estate,
  • Paying the estate’s debts, which may include liquidating assets to cover any cash shortfalls,
  • Filing the estate tax return if necessary,
  • Preparing and filing the final notice of distribution, and providing required notices to all beneficiaries,
  • Appearing at all required probate hearings,
  • Executing the asset distribution that the probate court approves.

An Empathetic Probate Administration Lawyer Can Help Guide You Through All Phases of Probate in Southern California

At the Law Offices of Darrell C. Harriman, we understand that the fiduciary obligations of serving as a personal representative to an estate can be overwhelming and time-consuming. In addition to the required duties described above, many Southern California probate proceedings eventually lead to conflict between the estate beneficiaries—especially if a provision in the will was ambiguous or unexpected.

Our experienced probate legal team has nearly four decades’ worth of experience successfully negotiating will contests to prevent further delays in the probate process and speed the asset distribution. Our probate administration team can also help you determine whether a will is valid, and can help provide clarification with respect to any ambiguous provisions in the will. In many cases, creditors may make claims against the estate that are invalid, and our professionals will investigate and evaluate any claims of creditors to ensure that the estate only pays debts and liabilities that are validly owed.

Contact Our Offices to Schedule a Consultation to Discuss Your Southern California Probate Case With an Experienced Probate Lawyer Today

If you are serving as the personal representative of an estate and need the assistance of an experienced and compassionate probate lawyer, complete our online contact form to schedule a confidential consultation with our probate lawyer. Our office is conveniently located at 8912 Haskell Ave., North Hills, CA 91343. We can also work with you via phone or email throughout the state of California to help in resolving your probate case without the need for you to travel to our offices.

About Southern California, CA

Southern California, as the name suggests, is comprised of the southernmost portion of the state of California. It is generally considered to be comprised of eight counties, including Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura. Other interpretations also include Kern County and San Luis Obispo counties in the region. Southern California is an incredibly diverse area, filled with both large urban areas and undeveloped lands. The Southern California area is home to over 60 percent of California’s population, with around 22 million residents.

FAQ: I’m serving as personal representative of a Southern California estate. Do I have to retain the services of a probate lawyer?

You are not legally obligated to retain a probate lawyer in order to complete the probate process. However, even for simple estates, the probate process is complicated and time-consuming. You will benefit greatly from the assistance of an experienced probate attorney who understands the California probate laws and system. Missed documents or assets, incorrectly filed paperwork and missed deadlines can complicate the probate process enormously, making it important to get the advice of a skilled probate lawyer before beginning the process.

FAQ: How long does the probate administration process take in Southern California?

The answer to this question is unfortunately vague. The probate process can take anywhere from a few months to several years and is entirely dependent upon how extensive the estate is and whether any complications arise throughout the process. A will contest, or the need to appoint a guardian for a minor, are both factors that can complicate and lengthen the probate process. If you are serving as a personal representative of an estate in Southern California, an experienced probate lawyer can help evaluate your case to provide a more individualized estimate as to how long your probate case could take.