The probate process begins after a person’s death. Except for rare exceptions, probate must occur to authenticate a decedent’s will, empower a personal representative, and oversee the actions of that personal representative.
At every step in this process, heirs named in wills and potential beneficiaries must remain aware of their legal rights. These powers include challenging the authenticity of a will or asking the Probate Court to evaluate the actions of a personal representative.
A skilled probate lawyer could help you address common challenges associated with probate in Orange County or if you have questions or concerns about the legal process. In addition, legal counsel could work to examine your legal rights, explain relevant laws, and take all necessary steps to guide you through probate.
What Occurs During the Probate Process?
Upon a person’s death, an interested party, as defined in California Probate Code § 8000, can submit a petition for probate to the local branch of the Probate Court. This petition requires information concerning the decedent, their property, and a list of all named heirs and family members. An attorney could help individuals complete and submit these documents.
The most recent copy of the decedent’s will should accompany any petition for probate. A court can determine the authenticity of this will. The document is presumably valid as long as the will contains the decedent’s signature and the signatures of two witnesses.
However, interested parties may argue that a will is invalid due to fraud, undue influence, or the testator not being of sound mind at the time of signing. A probate lawyer in Orange County could provide more information about the difficulties of initiating probate.
What is the Role of a Personal Representative?
Once a court determines that a will is valid, it can grant personal representative powers to an individual. In most situations, this is someone nominated in a will. A personal representative will receive letters testamentary that give them the legal authority to handle the estate. Common steps involved in this process include:
- Taking control of assets
- Opening a bank account in the name of the estate
- Creating an inventory of assets
- Paying debts
- Distributing remaining assets to the heirs in the will
Personal representatives have a duty under the law to report their actions to the court. Personal representatives must also provide a full inventory of the decedent’s assets, preferably at the same time as the petition for grant of letters. Additionally, personal representatives must act prudently in the administration of an estate.
Failures to meet these requirements could result in a court revoking a representative’s powers. In some cases, a representative may be liable to the estate if it loses its value. Unfortunately, conflicts with personal representatives are common during the probate process in Orange County. A dedicated lawyer could evaluate whether an individual has met their obligations under the law.
Reach Out to an Attorney in Orange County Now to Hear More About Challenges Associated with Probate
Probate is an essential process determining the property rights of heirs to a decedent’s estate. Any interested person can ask the Probate Court to initiate probate and issue letters testamentary, authorizing a representative to administer to an estate. However, heirs can challenge the authenticity of a will or ask the court to evaluate whether a personal representative has met their duties to protect the estate.
A probate lawyer may be able to help address challenges associated with probate in Orange County. A legal team member could also work with personal representatives to help them meet their duties under the law. They could also assist heirs in determining if a will is valid and challenge a personal representative’s actions. Call today to schedule an appointment.