Probate Legal Services from the Business Law Group
When dealing with a probate matter, you might think that you can handle it alone. Or you might want to settle for a less experienced lawyer, thinking it will save you time or money. The truth is that experience and knowledge are crucial when it comes to probate matters. Handling the estate of a family member or friend is no small job. There are many intricate laws governing estates and trusts. Sometimes, disputes involving the estate arise. You may need court intervention to decide a dispute. Our team has decades of experience helping business owners and their families, which is why our clients trust us to handle probate matters when they are in need.
What Is Probate?
The California Courts website describes probate as the “legal process that you must follow to transfer or inherit property after the person who owned the property has passed away.” All the property that a deceased person owned (and debts) is called their "estate." An estate might need to go through the probate process even if there was a will or trust that the deceased person signed.
An estate executor, or “personal representative” as they’re often called in California, is the person who handles the probate process on behalf of the deceased person. The executor must locate and gather all the deceased person's property. They pay off debts and determine the heirs of the estate. Then, they distribute the remaining property to the heirs. The probate process may seem extremely simple from this description, but in most cases, it is not. The executor must meet many legal requirements before distributing the property. Moreover, legal disputes can arise at many points during the probate process.
In California, some simpler estates may not require formal probate. However, a variety of legal issues can arise even with estates that seem "simple". For example, debts that the deceased person owes can make transferring the estate to heirs more difficult. Moreover, it is common for issues to arise when transferring the deceased person's interest in a business to heirs. You may need a lawyer to handle issues such as interpreting the business agreement and preparing documents to transfer the interest properly. Further, the executor’s job of tracking down property, finding the will, locating heirs, selling estate property to satisfy debts, and more can take a lot of time and effort to accomplish. Finding a probate lawyer to make the process more efficient and effective is a good idea.
What Does the Probate Court Do?
In California, the probate court handles legal matters involving probate, estates, trusts, guardianships, and conservatorships. When an estate does not qualify for the simpler probate process, the executor must formally apply to the court to be appointed representative. If there is no will, the will does not appoint an executor, or the executor named in the will cannot serve, the court can appoint someone else to be the representative. Once appointed, the representative must report back to the court as they gather and distribute estate property. The court supervises this process and decides any legal disputes that arise along the way. In addition, the probate court decides trust administration disputes and decides whether to appoint guardians or conservators for people who do not have the capacity to make some decisions for themselves.
Why Might You Need to Go to Probate Court?
As described above, probate for many estates must go through the probate court because the estates are larger or more complicated. Moreover, legal issues sometimes arise involving an estate that requires court intervention. For example, when a person dies without a will, it is referred to as dying intestate. Many intestate estates in California must go through probate unless they are on the smaller side. Another example of court intervention occurs when a deceased person has a will, but there is a dispute about the will's terms. The executor and the heirs disputing the will may need probate lawyers to handle the case. A third example occurs when beneficiaries of a trust do not agree with how the trustee is managing trust property. The beneficiaries can request court intervention, such as the removal of the trustee or an order requiring an accounting.
Legal Help for Probate Matters
Do you have questions about a loved one's estate or why you never received a distribution from your family's trust? Maybe you own a family business and are dealing with probate issues surrounding one of the partners' sudden death. Or perhaps you have questions about how to avoid the need for probate of your estate. Our highly experienced team is ready to help.
It’s a very good idea to get a probate lawyer for any of the issues described on this page. While probate may seem straightforward, there are many extremely specific laws governing estates and trusts that you must follow. Moreover, you may struggle to handle a loved one's affairs when you are still grieving their loss. Having a knowledgeable advocate on your side who understands the personal, business, and legal issues at stake can make all the difference.
Probate Matter? Call the Business Law Group
If you or a loved one needs assistance with a probate matter, please call us immediately. The Business Law Group’s highly experienced attorneys give every probate matter the attention it deserves. Our team has decades of experience with the issues that matter the most to you. We advise California business owners and their families about probate matters, trust administration, estate planning, and more. Please contact us at your convenience to schedule an appointment. You can reach the Business Law Group by calling (408) 979-7800 or by filling out our Contact form.