Retaining a lawyer to oversee your probate process could be very helpful. If you are an executor for someone’s will, you may wish to retain a lawyer in order to make sure you are doing everything correctly in helping to carry out the deceased’s wishes.
To Hire or Not Hire a Lawyer
Sometimes going to probate court is not necessary to settle an estate. In California, there are streamlined processes to help ensure a deceased’s assets are properly distributed. If the assets do not total more than $150,000 or if the deceased had a surviving spouse, then going to probate court may not be necessary. The spouse can file a petition to claim any of the deceased’s assets and others who have a right to inherit some of the estate can file affidavits with the court to claim assets.
In addition, the executor of a will can take care of many of the matters without the permission of a probate court under the Independent Administration of Estates Act. They can pay expenses, file the last tax return and pay what is owed, sell estate assets and approve or reject the claims of creditors. However, if the deceased left a large estate or had a living will, then the executor may wish to consult with an attorney regarding going to probate court.
When Probate is Necessary
Usually, going to probate court is necessary to settle estates worth more than $150,000 and if real estate property or a business is involved, if there is no joint tendency. While some of the matters can be easily settled in probate court, you should hire a lawyer to help you settle matters with a business and/or real estate as those issues can quickly become complicated. Also, if the will is being contested, then you will want a lawyer to help you.
There are many reasons for a will to be contested, including the discovery of another will. Wills are verified in probate court, so a lawyer could step in and help you during the verification process. In addition, if the deceased did not leave a will, an administrator to help settle the deceased’s estate will be appointed by the court and an attorney can help the administrator with their duties to help get the estate settled.
If you or a loved one is in need of a probate lawyer contact the Law Offices of Anne Dowden Saxton for a free consultation.