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When Do You Need a Probate Lawyer?

On Behalf of | Sep 19, 2022 | PROBATE

The death of a family member can leave any family in disarray. After the funeral has taken place and the deceased is laid to rest, the matter of distributing property to heirs needs to be addressed. This happens, at least in part, through a legal process called probate.

If you are in need of a probate lawyer in Roseville, Sacramento, and nearby cities in California, turn to The Sterling Law Group, APC, to handle your estate matter today.

What is Probate?

Sometimes the property the deceased owned, known as their estate, must be probated. Probate is a court-supervised process that takes place after someone dies. It allows the property to be transferred to beneficiaries. Depending on whether the deceased executed a will, the estate will be handled accordingly.

During probate, the personal representative will be appointed by the court to distribute the estate’s assets. In order to do so, the assets of the decedent (person who died) must be accounted for, and debts must be paid out.

In California, the personal representative must complete the probate within one year after being appointed. The personal representative will have more time if they file a federal estate tax, which would allow them 18 months to complete the probate process.

Probate describes a court-supervised process that determines the existence and validity of a will, calculating the decedent’s assets, paying out debts that are owed, and transferring the decedent’s property to heirs or beneficiaries.

When Can Probate Be Avoided?

Under California law, a few circumstances would allow an estate to not have to go through probate:

  1. If the deceased owned all assets jointly with another person;
  2. If the property was transferred into a revocable living trust (property can be transferred into it during a person’s lifetime);
  3. If any accounts are transferred to a beneficiary payable-on-death (POD);
  4. Assets inherited by a surviving spouse (they need to sign a Spousal or Domestic Partner Property Petition).

The size of the estate also matters: if the amount to be probated is not more than $166,250, then the California probate court allows the personal representative to go through a streamlined summary probate process. If the probated assets exceed this cap, then the estate will need to be probated. Depending on the particulars of the estate, probate may be avoidable in other circumstances.

Hiring a Probate Lawyer

If your loved one’s estate needs to be probated, hiring a probate attorney will take unneeded stress off of your shoulders. There are a lot of forms to fill out, and any errors in paperwork will result in the probate being extended and additional court fees.

As a personal representative, hiring an attorney will prevent you from becoming involved in any disputes over the inheritance. Emotions usually run high after a family member has passed away, causing people to behave erratically and not use their best judgment. An attorney can remind family members of the law and allow the probate process to run more smoothly.

Additionally, creditors have a one-year time frame from the deceased’s date of death to file a claim. It is wise to hire an attorney, especially if the estate’s debts exceed the recorded assets.

A Dependable Probate Lawyer During a Difficult Time

Many puzzle pieces must be put together when a loved one passes away. If you need guidance during the probate process, we are here to eliminate any confusion. Contact us today to schedule your free, no-obligation case evaluation. Discover what we have to offer.