Probate is the process by which the state and county courts oversee administration for an estate of someone who dies with assets exceeding $150,000, and who have insufficient trusts or beneficiary designations in place. Probate laws vary from state-to-state, so we advise choosing a qualified lawyer in the state where the estate will be settled to ensure the process is completed in full compliance with state probate laws and regulations.
Here in Alameda, probate attorneys serve as both the executors or administrators of an estate after you are gone. Typically, the settling of a planned estate takes place using a will or living trust that we’ve administered for the person who has died (the decedent). In this case, the courtroom is removed from the equation and estate planning attorneys work with the executor and beneficiaries, ensuring the estate is settled as intended. However, estate attorneys are also probated attorneys, meaning we facilitate the settlement an estate when the decedent does not have any clear estate plans, a will or clear beneficiary designations for certain accounts, properties or assets.
Situations requiring probate can be more complicated to navigate, especially when loved ones are both grieving and trying to handle “the business side of things.” In those situations, the probate attorneys at Tseng Law Firm are here to step in and walk side-by-side as you navigate the numerous steps required to settle an estate in an Alameda probate court.
The Value of Working With an Experienced Probate Attorney
In addition to a notable amount of paperwork, estates must be carefully reviewed before they are settled and any remaining assets are distributed.
What is not included in a probate
Certain aspects of the estate are not included in a typical probate process:
- Retirement accounts
- Life insurance benefits
- Pension funds
- Assets owned in joint tenancy with someone living (spouse, partner, family member, etc.)
These accounts have designated beneficiaries and the monies or title properties/possessions pass directly to these individuals, outside of the probate process. If, however, designated beneficiaries are no longer living, or they are incapacitated, these funds, properties or assets redirect to the state’s probate court, meaning you will need to navigate the probate proceedings to establish their legal distribution.
The Estate is Reviewed and Managed Impartially in CA Probate Court
Typically, California probate proceedings take anywhere between six months to a full year, depending on the efficacy of the administrator and the complexity of the estate’s properties, assets, and possessions. It’s important to note that probate attorneys must review the estate impartially, regardless of who secured the attorney. We review the estate from the point of view of the California probate court.
Probate attorneys serve as the estate’s administrator
The probate attorney serves as the estate’s administrator, and files all of the necessary documents with the probate court in the county where the deceased person lived, starting with the “Petition for Probate.” From there, the next steps are determined on a case-by-case basis.
Typical steps for setting an estate through an Alameda probate court include:
- Payment of filing an additional court and legal fees
- Filing additional, required forms
- Formally noticing beneficiaries, particular family members, creditors, and others.
- If a will is available, it must be validated via witnesses who sign a sworn statement that is filed with the probate court
- Safeguard and maintain houses, properties, possessions of value, etc., until they have been sold or distributed as per state law
- Establish a taxpayer ID for the estate, as well as a thorough filing system
- All of the decedent’s existing bills, taxes and debts must be paid and cleared
At this time, we might also sell properties that aren’t inherited by others, liquidate other assets, etc., in order to cover taxes, bills, fees, and debts – as well as the fees required by the estate.
Once all of this has been accounted for, your probate attorney will split the remaining assets with the beneficiaries and inheritors of the estate, in accordance with the Alameda County probate court’s decisions.
Tseng Law Firm Probate Attorneys Are Experienced and Efficient
In almost all cases, hiring a probate attorney saves considerable time, money and energy for all involved. We simplify and streamline the Alameda probate process, and work diligently with our clients to achieve an efficient, timely and fair settlement of the estate.
Please give us a call at (510) 835-3090, or contact us online for a free, 30-minute consultation.