The probate process exists to ensure that a decedent’s wishes become a reality. However, complications may arise during probate. These may concern the authenticity of a will, the role of an executioner, or whether debtors have received what they are owed before the distribution of assets. Any of these examples may require the help of an experienced trusts and estates attorney. A Tustin probate lawyer could fully explain this process, listen to your concerns, and provide the necessary guidance to protect your legal rights or those of an estate.
What is Probate and What Purpose Does it Serve?
Probate occurs whenever a person dies and the executor of the will must carry out the decedent’s wishes. The court has the sole ability to determine whether a decedent has a will, authenticate that will, and oversee the administration of a decedent’s estate. To begin the probate process, California Probate Code § 8000 states that any interested party may submit a petition to the court. Once the court receives the petition, these interested parties may submit wills or challenge the authenticity of any other testamentary document. A Tustin attorney could help initiate probate proceedings or challenge the authenticity of purported wills.
The court’s next step is empowering an executor to manage the estate. This executor must take stock of the decedent’s assets, pay off any debtors, and distribute the remaining assets to the heirs named in the will. An attorney could help executors better understand their jobs and take the steps necessary to fulfill their obligations under the law.
Common Issues that May Arise During Probate
Probate has a well-earned reputation as being a lengthy and costly process. This is because multiple parties may be attempting to have the court recognize their rights and ensure that they receive their just property under the terms of a will.
One of the more common questions that arise during probate concerns the authenticity of a will. To be valid, a will must contain the signature of the testator as well as those of two witnesses that observed the testator sign the document. Parties may contest whether a will meets these requirements. Additionally, parties may allege that a will is the product of fraud or other misrepresentations. A Tustin lawyer could help to promote arguments on either side of this debate in probate court.
Another frequent question that may arise during probate concerns the actions of the executor. Executors have a duty to an estate to properly manage the decedent’s affairs. This includes properly paying debts, managing assets, and distributing property. A local attorney could assist executors in this process or pursue litigation if an heir believes that an executor has failed to perform their role in a satisfactory manner.
Contact a Tustin Probate Attorney
The probate process determines the property rights of people named in wills as well as prospective heirs. Probate courts have the sole authority to name executors, determine the validity of wills, and oversee the distribution of property. However, courts will only take action if a party brings forward concerns about the behavior of executors or the authenticity of testamentary documents.
A Tustin probate lawyer could take the lead in pursuing these cases. An attorney from our dedicated firm could explain your legal rights, guide you through this process, determine if a violation of your rights has occurred, and take the necessary legal steps that work toward the desired outcome. Reach out to our team today to learn more.