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California Wills and Probate

In the days following the loss of a loved one, you likely are experiencing a whirlwind of emotions. It can be a difficult time to have to hassle with tedious paperwork and legal filings. Yet, to ensure the person's wishes regarding his or her estate are honored, timely steps in the probate process need to be undertaken as soon as possible because penalties for missteps can be costly. With the help of a California wills and probate attorney, you can rest assured that the settlement of your loved one's estate is in good hands.

Why Partner With a California Probate Lawyer?

It's a common mistake to assume that a will allows you to sidestep the probate process. While thorough estate planning certainly makes the process move more smoothly and quickly, probate is not just for situations in which a person has died intestate, or without a will. To properly follow through on the provisions of a will, petitions must be filed, the will validated, a personal representative named, and debts settled, with crucial deadlines and paperwork nearly every step of the way. A California probate attorney can guide you through the process, ensuring nothing slips through the cracks. These experienced lawyers can help navigate tricky tax issues, maximizing the value of the estate. Also, should disputes arise—and they often do—a qualified attorney can litigate or represent you in an alternative dispute resolution proceeding.

What Services Do Will Attorneys in California Provide?

Wills and probate attorneys cater to the full spectrum of estate planning and settlement issues, from the drafting of traditional and living wills through ensuring the provisions in these documents are honored in accord with the deceased person’s wishes. An attorney practicing in this branch of California law likely will offer services such as:

  • Drafting traditional wills-A will is the cornerstone of estate planning. It outlines how you want your estate to be handled upon your death.
  • Creating living wills-A living will details choices about end-of-life medical care, such as what measures you want or want to avoid in specific situations. Or you may choose to name a representative to legally make those decisions for you should you become incapacitated. 
  • Setting up trusts-There are a number of different types of trusts, which offer advantages such as more specific control over how and when assets are disbursed, reduced taxes, and transfer of property without having to go through probate.
  • Inventorying assets-A California will and probate attorney can help enumerate assets in an estate and assess their value.
  • Protecting assets-Prudent planning can help you and your family hold onto assets that may otherwise fall into the hands of creditors or other entities.
  • Minimizing taxes-Estate taxes can take a huge bite out of inheritance.
  • Creating conservatorships-If a person is unable to make sound financial or other decisions, the court may appoint a conservator.
  • Resolving disputes-During probate, the validity of a will or fairness of its provisions may come into question, which may require litigation or alternative dispute resolution.

Of course, this list is not exhaustive. While the will is widely considered to be the cornerstone of estate planning, a number of other documents and materials frequently are involved, including letters of administration, renunciations, inventory lists, lists of sales, estate vouchers, releases, administration bonds, distributive accounts, settlements, administration accounts, executor’s accounts, guardian bonds, guardian accounts, and exceptions to accountings. Will lawyers in California are familiar with the intricacies of California probate law and can leverage their skills and acumen toward ensuring your estate or that of a loved one is handled in optimal fashion.  Learn more about what happens to your stuff if you die without a will.

Contact a California Wills and Probate Lawyer Today

Grieving the loss of a loved one is difficult, but there is some comfort in knowing that your friend or family member's wishes regarding his or her estate are being honored. And you'll gain peace of mind in planning to make that process easier for your own family when your time comes. Having a wills and probate attorney in your corner can go a long way toward ensuring just that. Call now to speak with a California wills and probate lawyer at 877-913-7222.