When a close relative or friend dies, there are several important legal and taxation matters to be addressed. If the deceased person has a certain amount of property, you may need a California probate attorney to initiate the “Probate” proceedings.
What is Probate?
Definition: Probate is a court supervised process with respect to the administration of the Estate of a deceased person.
It specifically resolves all claims and distributes the deceased property under a valid will or the state laws of consanguinity (heirship).
- protects the instructions of the deceased.
- confirms either an executor or administrator as the personal representative of the decedent’s estate.
- protects the interest of heirs and creditors of the estate.
- provides third persons with the necessary legal assurances relative to dealing with the decedent’s property.
Probate requires the filing of particularized and complicated legal forms, and the entire process is supervised by the Probate Department of the California Superior Court in the County in which the decedent resided at the time of death.
Jeffrey R. Matsen is a probate lawyer in California who has 35 plus years of proven experience an the entire Matsen Voorhees law team are here to help you with the following probate issues:
- Formal Administration of Estates and Probating of Wills
- Asset Distribution
- Summary and Ancillary Administration
- Will Contests and Estate/Trust Litigation
- Estate Tax (IRS Form 706) Preparation & Filing
Do I Need a California Probate Lawyer?
Under California law, a probate of an estate is generally necessary when an individual passes away leaving assets in excess of $100,000 that do not pass via beneficiary designation, joint tenancy, or if such assets were not held in trust.
For example, under the following circumstances, a probate would not be necessary:
- Decedent left an insurance policy with a death benefit over $100,000 (or less for that matter) payable to a living individual
- Decedent had bank and brokerage accounts held jointly with another living individual (in such case, those accounts would pass automatically to the joint account holder)
- Decedent owned an IRA (or other retirement related account) with a value in excess of $100,000 (or less) which named a living individual as the beneficiary
- Decedent owned real property held either in joint tenancy or as community property in which the other owner(s) were living
A probate of an estate, however, would most likely be necessary under the following events:
- Decedent died with a bank or brokerage account held solely in their name with a value in excess of $100,000
- Decedent owned real property held solely in their name
- Decedent owned a life insurance policy with a death benefit over $100,000 in which no beneficiary was named or where the named beneficiary predeceased the decedent
- Decedent owned an IRA (or other retirement related account) with a value in excess of $100,000 in which no beneficiary was named or where the named beneficiary predeceased the decedent
Probate & Estate Litigation
Estate and Probate litigation is necessary in order to protect the rights of certain heirs and family members, often, either because of poor drafting of the testamentary documents or as a result of disputes among the beneficiaries. Our firm has extensive experience, not only with respect to the Probate procedures involved in such litigation, but, our litigation department has the know-how and background to aggressively litigate these disputes. Sometimes they involve challenges to the will document itself or a “Contestability” challenge.
Small Estate Summary Procedure
By statute, California has a “Small Estate Summary Procedure” to allow the summary transfer of a decedent’s asset without the time and expense of a formal Probate proceeding. Normally, the dollar limit by which the Small Estate procedure can be effectuated is $100,000. We can assist you in properly following this procedure which will be necessary in order to obtain access to the decedent’s assets
Call for a Consultation with a California Probate Attorney Today
Whether you are in need of a Will or someone close to you has passed on, probate law and the issues surrounding the probate process can be difficult and time consuming. It is often better to speak with an experienced probate attorney in California and make plans to help loved ones avoid having to guess as to your wishes.
If you have further questions about probate laws in California, or would like to learn how you can help your family avoid Probate, please contact us to arrange a consultation with one of our qualified wealth management lawyers at Matsen Voorhees today at 888.972.3476.