Probate Law in Orange County
If your loved one lived in Orange County and has passed away, their estate may need to go through probate. While many people get nervous when they hear the word probate, the process may not be as difficult as you think. However, it will take a considerable amount of time.
Ways to Stay Out of Probate
First, not every Orange County estate must go through the full probate process. For example, if the estate is valued below $166,250, you can send a letter to the financial institution directing them to deliver the assets (non-real property) to the beneficiaries. Second, you can use a very simple procedure when assets are passing from one spouse to another.
Then, many assets are not subject to an Orange County probate court. These include:
- Assets that are a part of a trust
- Jointly-held assets (that automatically pass to the other owner)
- Assets that have a designated beneficiary (such as retirement accounts and life insurance policies)
Steps to the Probate Process
If an exception does not apply, the estate will need to go through probate in order to administer the deceased’s estate. Here are the important steps and milestones in the probate process:
- The probate process begins with filing a petition for probate.
- The personal representative obtains a Letter of Representation from the court.
- Creditors are notified of the probate proceeding.
- The personal representative marshals the assets of the estate and pays the debts.
- The personal representative accounts for the assets and files a petition for distribution.
Many people have very negative perceptions of the probate process because they have heard horror stories of estates that were tied up in probate for years. This could happen if the estate was in dispute among family members or the decedent had many debts.
Staying Out of Probate
There are ways to avoid an extended and difficult probate process. The biggest way to help ensure a smoother distribution of assets is to stay out of probate altogether. You can do this when you hire an estate planning attorney to help you create trusts that keep the assets out of probate.
If the estate does end up having to go through this process, retaining a probate attorney could help protect your interests and disruptions. A probate attorney could advise you on the legal requirements and file the necessary paperwork for you to avoid delays that are under your control. If there is a dispute, a probate attorney could represent your interest and may either help negotiate a solution or litigate on your behalf.
Since you cannot take possession of the assets until they are distributed as part of the probate process, it would make sense to hire legal help to navigate the maze for you.
Contact an Orange County Estate Planning Attorney
The Law Offices of Roshni T. Desai could assist you with your estate planning and probate needs. Call us at 714.694.1200 or contact us online to learn what assistance an Orange County estate planning attorney can give you to either help you avoid probate entirely or make your way through the process.