Dedicated Attorney Helping Arroyo Grande Clients With Probate Issues

Probate is the legal process of determining and distributing your assets, and settling your liabilities, after you die. In California, estates valued at more than $150,000 generally have to be probated in your county’s Superior Court. If you have executed a will, it will be submitted to the probate court and they will work with the administrator named in the will to distribute assets. If you have not executed a will, an administrator will be assigned.


How Does Probate Work?

If there is no will, the California Probate Code provides a list of persons who have priority to petition to become administrator. If there is a will, the person who is nominated in the will as executor files a petition—which includes the will itself—with the Superior Court asking that he or she be appointed as executor. After the petition is filed, the court notifies heirs and/or relatives as to when the hearing will be held. The hearing is ordered to resolve any objections to the petition, contestations of the will or other problems can be resolved.


The executor then inventories the estate assets, contacts creditors, pays bills, files tax returns, and manages assets. When the executor completes their job, they file another petition with the court to distribute the estate to the heirs. Once the court grants the petition, the estate assets are distributed to the heirs and final tax returns are filed.


Probate Pros and Cons

On one hand, probate can offer an orderly judge-controlled process that can help resolve disputes among heirs and the executor, administer creditor claims, and result in transparent accounting of estate assets and the executor’s activities. On the other hand, probate is expensive—the process costs far more than would be required to administer a living trust for the same estate. And it usually takes much longer to probate an estate than to administer a trust. Most estates don’t need the supervision of the court unless disputes occur.


How Can an Attorney Help?

If you want to minimize the hassle of distributing your assets among your heirs, you would benefit from hiring an experienced California estate planning attorney like Doug Buchanan. He can show you how to avoid probate by creating a living trust. If you have lost a loved one and you’re already in the process of probate, Doug can help represent and protect your interests towards forging a fair settlement of your claims to the estate.



How long does probate usually take?
It depends on a couple of factors. The probate process generally takes six months to a year, it can be prolonged if the estate is complicated or if the executor delays his duties.


Can probate be started before the person who writes the will dies?
Some probate courts accept a will before the testator’s death, they will not start probate until the testator dies.


Can the executor of a will sell property during probate without the approval of all beneficiaries?
It depends on the language of the will. If the will doesn’t explicitly disallow such a sale, the executor can sell a property without the beneficiaries consenting.


Douglas M. Buchanan Attorney at Law offers over 20 years of experience helping clients in Arroyo Grande and throughout San Luis Obispo and Northern Santa Barbara counties with the probate process. Call our office at (805) 541-6440 to schedule an initial consultation.