If someone dies and leaves a will that will must be filed for probate at the County Probate Court. This means that the decedent's assets will be distributed as the will directs. The distribution is done by the will's executor under the supervision of a judge in the Probate Court. Normally the executor will pay the administrative costs of the will and then the creditors. The beneficiaries are paid last. In California it normally takes about six months to probate a will. The cost of the procedure will normally be between three and eight percent of the market value of the estate depending on the circumstances.
If someone dies without a will or trust the State of California takes responsibility for distributing their assets under the State's intestacy law. The intestacy law is based on the assumption that most people would want their assets to go to their nearest relatives such as wife and children. Normally the heirs will hire an attorney to file a petition asking the court to recognize the heirs as defined by the intestacy law. Just as with a will, administrative costs and creditors are paid first, then the heirs. The intestacy petition normally takes six to ten months to finalize and the total cost is about the same as for a probating a will. Howard Hughes, Abraham Lincoln and Prince are just some of the people who died intestate.
In addition to the above we also review trusts to answer legal questions that the trustees or beneficiaries may have about their rights under the trust or interpreting certain provisions. We can also help get access to financial accounts where financial officers are questioning the powers of attorney and making access difficult. We also prepare deeds transferring properties into the trust after refinancing or after new properties are acquired, especially if the properties are in other states.
In general, if you have any question about wills, trusts, or probate, call our office. We usually know what to do.
12881 Knott Street
Garden Grove CA 92841