Do I have to open probate if a Will is present?

Opening probate is the process of proving a will, sending notification of the death of the deceased, and distributing assets in an estate to beneficiaries. The only time probate is not necessary is if the estate is small and does not include any property titled solely by the deceased. It is possible to avoid probate with specific estate planning, but this is not typically the case.

The two kinds of probate are regular and summary. In a summary case, the estate remains under $150,000 and will only be overseen by the Probate Administrator. These cases have minimal, if any, court oversight. In a typical case, it can be expected to last one year or less.

In a regular probate case, the estate involves assets totaling more than $150,000. Depending on the complexities, these cases may take anywhere from 1 to 3 years. The court will oversee these cases.

Overview of the Probate Process:

File Petition for Probate: This petition is filed by the executor named in the will. If no executor is named, this can be the closest living relative such as a spouse or child, or any other legal heir seeking to be the administrator. It is also possible that a creditor may file if the deceased owed a significant debt at the time of death. In all other cases, the Probate Administrator will open the probate case.

Notify: It is necessary for the petitioner to individually notify all beneficiaries, people named in the will, and any legal heirs of the hearing date. They must also publish the date in a local newspaper before the hearing if anyone wishes to attend or dispute the petition at the hearing.

Monitor Case: Before and after the hearing, the filer’s responsibility is to monitor and respond to any changes in the case. This process includes responding to questions and notes from the probate examiner and supplying any extra requested paperwork. It may also involve clarifying questions or correcting mistakes in the petition. All probate notes must be cleared before a hearing can take place.

Execute the Estate: Once the petition is granted, the executor will pay all expenses and debts, manage and transfer property, and follow any other instructions specified in the will. Outstanding debts will be paid in order of importance if there are more debts than funds. Government debts take the first order of priority. If necessary, assets may be sold to meet these requirements.

Summarize and Close: Once debts and expenses are paid, the executor must provide an account of all actions taken regarding the estate. They must also supply a summary of all assets and benefits to be distributed. Once distributed to beneficiaries, the receipts must be included in the case, and the executor can file to close probate.

Receiving assistance with Probate:

It is possible to file all the necessary paperwork and attend hearings for probate without legal assistance, but this is not recommended. In California, each county has its own rules that must be followed in probate. Hiring an attorney who is familiar with these laws will decrease the amount of time and confusion in the process.

It is not necessary for an executor to have any special legal knowledge or education to execute a will. It is helpful, though, to hire a law firm to walk you through the legal process of opening and closing probate.

Legal assistance is not only helpful for information and answering questions. We can assist with:

  • Preparing and filing paperwork.
  • Attending hearings in your place.
  • Communication with court staff.
  • Disputing issues.
  • Keeping up to date on legal practices and changes.

Why should you hire The Legacy Lawyers?

Our goal is to assist you in this challenging time by offering a calm and stress-free probate process.

We frequently assist in opening probate cases with or without a will in Irvine and can control even the most complex cases with accuracy and efficiency.

Our goal is to decrease your time in probate and ensure you receive the most significant benefit possible.

Call us today to schedule a consultation for opening probate with a will in Irvine.

There is no charge of upfront attorney fees at The Legacy Lawyers. Your only cost is the initial filing fee, which will be reimbursed, along with all attorney fees, from the probate estate at the close.