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Samuel Ford Law Torrance Estate Planning & Probate Lawyer
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Torrance Probate Lawyer

There are several stages in the process of passing assets from one generation to another. Among the final stages in this process is that of probate. During the probate process, a California judge oversees the verification and execution of the will, payment of debts, sale of any property, and closing of the estate. Where assets are very low, the process can be straightforward. Where the deceased person left behind a substantial amount in assets or legal challenges occur, probate can become an overwhelming ordeal.

Compassionate legal assistance with probate in the South Bay of Los Angeles

No matter the size of the estate or complexity of the situation, a Torrance probate lawyer at Samuel Ford Law can guide through the probate process in Southern California. We understand the stress that you’re experiencing when a loved one’s estate is being probated, and we are ready and able to shoulder the legal and bureaucratic burden that probate imposes. Let South Bay’s probate law firm Samuel Ford Law help you complete the probate process so that you can focus on your family.

Which estates go through probate in California, and which do not

While a large share of California estates will need to be probated—or at least certain assets from that estate will need to go through probate—there are types of estates that can avoid the probate process altogether. In other cases, affidavits can be created that will allow for certain assets to pass to their new owners without first being subjected to the probate process.

California estates whose assets are valued at under $166,250 may be eligible for a simplified process for passing those assets along to the heirs and beneficiaries. Similarly, an experienced California probate lawyer can petition the court for exemptions from probate based on what’s called the small estate alternative. Please contact Samuel Ford Law for any questions you may have about whether these alternatives to probate may apply in your matter, or on any other issues regarding California probate law.

What happens during probate, and how long will it take?

There are several main phases in the probate process. The entire process can be completed in as few as 12 months, or, in the event of legal challenges to the validity of the will or complications regarding the estate’s debts or assets, as many as several years. Careful estate planning can help you and your family have a better chance at avoiding the worst-case scenario when it comes to probate.

Whether the decedent (the person who died) passed with a will (testate) or without a will (intestate), the estate will need to go through probate. If there is no will, the property will be divided according to California intestacy statutes after all debts are paid. If the decedent did leave a will, and that will appointed a personal representative or executor to handle the probate process, that individual will need to file the will with the probate court in order for the court to officially designate them as the executor. The executor will then need to file a petition to initiate probate to begin the process.

In the next phase of probate, the executor will need to create an inventory of all assets owned by the decedent and ensure that those assets are not harmed or distributed prematurely while probate is ongoing. The executor will need to provide notice to the decedent’s heirs, as well as any creditors. Creditors are allotted a certain amount of time to file a claim against the estate. Likewise, persons who believe that they are entitled to a larger share of the estate than that designated by the will, or who believe that they were wrongly excluded from the will, can file a legal challenge to the validity of the will. Will contests can be grueling and emotional, and having legal help to fight wrongful challenges to a will is crucial.

Once any claims on the estate have been resolved, any debts owed to the estate have been collected (think rent on properties owned by the decedent, or payment of loans made during the decedent’s lifetime), and any real property has been sold, the executor will determine how much remains in the estate. The executor will then handle the filing of the final tax return on behalf of the estate. Once all taxes have been paid, the executor will oversee the distribution of the remaining balance to the will’s beneficiaries. When all assets have been distributed, the executor can petition the court to close the estate.

Don’t navigate probate in the South Bay without legal help from our Torrance probate lawyer

From the accounting of property, to the negotiation with creditors and will challengers, to the filing of the final tax return, the probate process demands hours of work and attention, leaving little room for error. If you have been designated as the executor of an estate, get professional legal help in performing your duties. Contact the seasoned, dedicated, and knowledgeable Torrance probate law firm Samuel Ford Law. Our dedicated staff understands the nuances of probate law and is committed to providing superior service to our clients throughout the process of probating an estate in California. Samuel Ford Law is prepared to serve you during your navigation of the probate process throughout Torrance and the South Bay of Los Angeles.

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