Probate refers to the legal process that courts use to examine your estate plan and redistribute your assets when you pass away. These proceedings generally occur in court, and the process can be time-consuming. Additionally, if you proceed without legal representation, things can become even more challenging. Thankfully, our attorneys could help simplify the probate process in Tustin.
Furthermore, it is important to recognize that probate might not always be a necessary process. Depending on the nature of your estate, you might be able to avoid the cost and publicity of probate court while still protecting your wishes. An experienced probate attorney could offer a personalized assessment of your strategy.
Beginning the Probate Process
Probate does not automatically begin after someone passes away. Instead, it only starts when someone files a formal petition. Individuals must submit this petition in the superior court in the decedent’s county of residence. If someone does not file this official request, a probate court will not take any action regarding a deceased person’s estate. After filing a petition, an estate representative will receive a notice that contains the date of their hearing.
Publishing the Notice of Hearing
Submitting the probate petition is not the only key first step. Before the probate process can move forward, an estate representative needs to formally notify anyone else who might be affected by a decedent’s trusts or wills. Someone can do this by publishing a notice about the initial hearing, commonly handled by including three rounds of information in the local newspaper.
It is crucial that a representative send this notice to certain parties, including but not limited to heirs and creditors of the estate. Meanwhile, if there was a will in place, anyone named in the will is also entitled to learn that probate is starting.
Proving a Will
If the decedent created a will before they passed away, it might be necessary to “prove” the will, which refers to the process where a court examines all the clauses of the document to establish its validity. Some wills are not subject to this step, but a tenacious legal representative in Tustin could make sure that a probate court takes this step of the process seriously and respects a family’s documents.
Handling Assets and Closing the Estate
Before probate can end, all relevant assets need to be collected and distributed, and creditors must receive outstanding payments. During collection, an executor will catalog any items that are subject to probate, including things like cars, boats, houses, stocks, or bonds.
Before any assets can be distributed to the heirs, the executor of the state must first resolve any claims from creditors. This could involve paying outstanding debts on the assets held by the estate or disputing the viability of a creditor’s claims. During this step, an estate representative also needs to pay any applicable estate taxes.
Once an executor collects all assets and pays any remaining debts, the final step is to distribute the assets to the heirs. Along with handing out assets according to a decedent’s will, a representative also needs to record, in detail, how the estate was settled. After all this, an executor can close the estate and end the probate process.
If a family has further questions about these final stages of the probate process, a knowledgeable Tustin lawyer could be the ideal resource.
Talk to an Attorney About the Probate Process in Tustin
The probate process in Tustin can be confusing and time-consuming, especially when it comes to making sure assets get redistributed fairly. Any mistake during the procedure could not only complicate the estate but, unfortunately, open the executor to the possibility of personal liability.