Probate is a process used by the court system to distribute a person’s property after their passing. Whether a person passes away with or without a will, a third party will need to begin the probate process in court.

If you have questions about opening a probate case in Tustin, a lawyer could provide answers. An experienced probate attorney could explain the process and help you navigate the legal proceedings.

Understanding the Probate Process

Probate is the default process for distributing a decedent’s estate to their heirs. The court oversees this process to ensure surviving heirs get the correct inheritance they are entitled to while addressing any debts the estate owes.

One of the first steps in this process is appointing a personal representative to collect and manage the distribution of the estate. The personal representative could be named in a last will and testament, or the court could appoint them. Their job is to gather and distribute the estate’s assets to the heirs.

The personal representative is also responsible for addressing any challenges or disputes. In many cases, hiring a Tustin lawyer experienced in opening probate is necessary to protect the representative when the beneficiaries of a will disagree or when there are debts of the estate to be paid.

Initiating Probate

More than one person could have the right to initiate probate proceedings after their loved one passes away. No matter who submits a petition to the court, it must be done in the county where the person lived at the time of their passing. Any interested party has an opportunity to petition the court to begin probate. This is often done by a beneficiary of the estate. In California, the person named in the will has priority to act as the personal representative of the estate. If there is no will or a personal representative is not named in the will, then there is an order of priority for who may be appointed as personal representative of the estate. The order of priority if the surviving spouse, then a child, then a grandchild, then a parent, and then a sibling. If there are multiple children vying to be appointed as the personal representative, the court will decide based on a number of factors, depending on the specifics of each case.

During probate, the court will consider a last will and testament if one exists. Conflicts can arise if there are multiple versions of a will. An attorney could assist with resolving these disputes and ensure the court recognizes the appropriate will during the probate initiation process.

Once the will is probated and the personal representative is in place, the process of distributing the estate begins. This step includes paying off creditors before giving the remaining estate to its heirs. The way the estate is distributed depends on whether there is a will. Those involved in opening probate in Tustin should consult a lawyer on the distribution process.

Can I Avoid Probate?

Many people create an estate plan to avoid probate and the associated costs in terms of time and money. Avoiding probate is possible by using the right estate planning tools. Often, this process is handled primarily through establishing a revocable trust. Other estate planning tools that can avoid probate include life insurance policies and payable-on-death accounts. These options automatically transfer a person’s assets to their heirs without waiting for probate to conclude. Our Tustin attorneys could further explain the planning options for avoiding the need to open an estate in probate in the future.

Talk to a Tustin Attorney About Opening Probate

If you have questions about opening probate in Tustin, now is the time to consult legal counsel and get answers. The support of a seasoned attorney could greatly simplify the process and provide you peace of mind.

You deserve legal counsel from an attorney who understands every aspect of the probate proceedings. Call today for a confidential consultation.

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Amity Law Group, LLP

Amity Law Group, LLP