Does a will need to go through probate?

Probate is the legal process by which an estate distributes personal property to heirs and beneficiaries after a loved one has passed. Unless a will is set up specifically to avoid it, probate is required. Probate is necessary to prove a will and notify all interested parties such as family and creditors. The proceedings will also establish the responsible party and allow for the execution of the statements and wishes outlined in the will.

A regular probate proceeding involves cases where the estate exceeds $150,000. This can take anywhere from 1 year to more than three years to complete, depending on the circumstances and availability of the court. Regular probate will always be overseen by the court.

A summary probate proceeding involves cases where the estate assets fall below $150,000 and are typically completed in shorter time frames. These cases may not include any court supervision and will be overseen by a Public Administrator.

What is the probate process?

The first step in opening California probate is for the executor or personal representative to file a petition for probate with the Los Angeles Superior Court. If no executor or next of kin is available, probate will be opened by the public administrator. After filing, a case number will be received, and a hearing date will be set.

Los Angeles Probate Court allows for the e-filing of all documents on the probate division website. This is not mandatory for self-represented litigants, but it is available for all cases. When working with probate lawyers, all documents will be e-filed. E-filing documents may allow for faster responses and shorter probate times overall.

Next, it is the petitioner’s responsibility to notify all beneficiaries and legal heirs of the estate of the hearing date. They must also publish a notice of the hearing in a local newspaper so that anyone who wishes to attend the hearing has enough notice and information.
Before attending the hearing, it is important to check online and give a written response to any probate notes that have been posted by a probate examiner. These notes may involve supplying more information, clarifying confusion, or correcting any mistakes in the original petition. If this step is not followed, the hearing may be delayed, as the court cannot proceed without clearing all probate notes.

Once a judge reviews and grants the petition, the executor will be allowed to access funds and administer the will. They will first pay debts and creditors. If there aren’t enough funds available, assets may be sold, and debts will be paid in order of importance.

Debts to the federal or state government are given priority. The executor of the will is also responsible for paying any unpaid funeral expenses. The last order of business will be determining the transfer of titles and the distribution of assets to beneficiaries and legal heirs.

Finally, to close probate, a summary of the estate will need to be filed with the court and approved. This includes a record of all transactions made for the estate and a record of what will be received by beneficiaries. Upon approval, all inheritances and property may be distributed. Once the receipts from these distributions are received, the executor will file a petition to close, and the court will close the case.

Probate assistance is recommended.

Probate cases can run smoothly, but it is commonly known that probate can be costly and drawn out if the correct steps are not followed. In California, every county has different “local rules” that must be followed in probate proceedings. There are many steps involved, and hiring a law firm ensures that every step is covered and that ever-changing laws are kept. When hiring a team, you are not only receiving legal advice but assistance every step of the way:

  • Filing the initial petition
  • Attending hearings on your behalf
  • Working with the court’s probate attorney and staff
  • Resolving issues
  • Serving and posting notices
  • Preparing and filing all paperwork

Why is The Legacy Lawyers the right choice?

At Legacy Lawyers, it is our desire to serve you with information and peace of mind. We are available to answer questions, assist in court handling, and manage every step of the probate process. We handle the complicated parts of administration so that you don’t have to.

We regularly assist with opening probate cases with or without a will in Los Angeles County and are able to handle simple and straightforward or detailed and complicated cases.

We have proven strategies with a reputation known to significantly decrease your time in probate and maximize your benefits and outcomes.

Call us today for more general information or to schedule a consultation if you need assistance to open a probate with a will in Los Angeles County.

When hiring The Legacy Lawyers, you will not incur any upfront attorney fees. Aside from the initial reimbursable filing fee, all fees will be paid from the probate estate at the close.