El Dorado Probate Lawyer

Years of Experience Protecting Families Throughout California

Our Popular Practice Areas:

Divorce
Spousal Support
Child Support
Death & Incapacity

El Dorado Probate Attorney

Losing a loved one can beover whelming. Without proper planning by the decedent, surviving family members are often left to make a variety of difficult decisions about the estate. Creating a valid will ensures that the property and assets an individual leaves behind are managed, preserved, and distributed according to their specific instructions.

When someone dies without a legally valid will in place, their estate must pass through probate before their beneficiaries can gain access to their inheritances. Probate ultimately places control of the estate in the hands of probate court, which will adhere to the state’s intestacy laws to distribute the estate to relatives rather than following the decedent’s wishes.

If you have been named the administrator of a loved one’s estate, learn how the probate process works by reviewing the information below, then contact McCunn Law to discuss your case. Our El Dorado probate lawyers can help you understand your legal responsibilities, guide you through each stage of the probate process, and obtain the best outcome for your family.

If you need help with probate in California contact McCunn Law today.

If you are involved in the trust probate process, you need a compassionate probate attorney who can protect you and your family’s best interests. For more information about our probate and estate services, contact our office online or call (916) 773-6100 to speak with a member of our team today.

Call (916) 773-6100

What Is Probate?

Probate is the court-supervised process of handling an individual’s estate after they die. If the decedent left behind a valid will, the person designated as the executor becomes responsible for administering the estate according to the terms set forth in the will. The executor must file the will with the probate court and request Letters Testamentary, which is a legal document that gives them the legal authority to manage the assets and property in the estate.

If a will cannot be found or is declared invalid, a spouse or heir can petition the court for Letters of Administration to request appointment as administrator of the estate. This person can acquire the legal authority to manage the assets and property it contains, according to the state’s laws of intestate succession.

What Does the Executor or Administrator of an Estate Do?

After an executor has accepted their role or an administrator is appointed by the court, they are responsible for:

  • Collecting and appraising the assets and property within the estate
  • Filing this appraised inventory with the court
  • Safeguarding the assets from damage or theft
  • Insuring and maintaining real estate
  • Collecting proceeds from life insurance policies
  • Informing beneficiaries of their interest in the estate
  • Notifying potential creditors that may have claims against the estate
  • Paying debts owed against the estate
  • Filing tax returns for the decedent and the estate
  • Handling all other financial obligations of the estate
  • Keeping records of all transactions and submitting them to the court
  • Closing the estate and distributing the estate assets to beneficiaries

How Is Property Distributed Through Intestate Succession?

Without a will, the administrator must follow the laws of intestate succession to divide and distribute estate assets to the closest surviving relatives to the decedent at the time of their death. Intestate succession laws impact only assets that would have been distributed through a will. Community property refers to all property acquired during a marriage. In contrast, separate property consists of property the decedent held solely in their name before marriage or received as a gift or inheritance.

  • Children but no spouse – children inherit everything.
  • Spouse but no children, parents, siblings, nieces, or nephews – spouse inherits everything.
  • Parents but no children, spouse, or siblings – parents inherit everything.
  • Siblings but no children, spouse, or parents – siblings inherit everything.
  • Spouse and one child or grandchild – spouse inherits all community property and ½ of separate property.
  • Spouse and two or more children – spouse inherits all community property and 1/3 of separate property, and children inherit the remaining 2/3 of separate property.
  • Spouse and parents but no children – spouse inherits all community property and ½ of separate property, and parents inherit the remaining ½ of separate property.
  • Spouse and siblings but no parents – spouse inherits all community property and ½ of separate property, and siblings inherit the remaining ½ of separate property.

Is Probate Always Necessary?

Probate is not always necessary for distributing certain assets from an estate. If the decedent owned assets in joint tenancy with another individual, such as survivorship community property with their spouse, in a living trust, or in an account with a payable-on-death beneficiary, these assets do not need to go through probate. Assets inherited by surviving spouses or registered domestic partners can be transferred with a Spousal (or Domestic Partner) Property Petition. This petition must be submitted to the court for approval, but this method is significantly easier and quicker than undergoing regular probate.

Alternatively, probate can be avoided if the total value of the probate estate (or the assets that cannot be transferred to beneficiaries in the ways described above) equals $166,250 or less. In this case, inheritors can submit a small estate affidavit or use simplified probate procedures to streamline the probate process. A small estate affidavit is a short legal document in which the beneficiary states that they are entitled to receive a certain asset.

This option is available when the total estate value is less than the figure above or if the estate contains real estate valued at no more than $55,425. When this affidavit is given to the person or institution holding the property, along with a copy of the death certificate, this releases the assets for distribution after a six-month waiting period.

To qualify for simplified probate procedures, a probate case must not already be pending for the estate. In this process, the beneficiary files a written request in the county where the decedent lived or held assets. This request must name the executor, explain the beneficiary’s relationship with the decedent,include an appraised inventory of the estate assets, state the property they are requesting, and list each beneficiary’s names, ages, addresses, and relationships. Obtaining written consent from the executor is required. There is a forty-day waiting period before assets can be distributed.

Contact Our El Dorado Law Group for Probate Representation

If you are tasked with administering an estate, you need dedicated legal counsel on your side. Although you may be tempted to handle the probate process on your own, probate law is notoriously complex. Understanding how the law applies to your specific situation is crucial for obtaining the best results. Making even seemingly minor mistakes can delay or derail the process, and any number of serious disputes may arise that further complicate matters. Approaching probate with an experienced attorney is the only way to ensure you accurately prepare and file all necessary documents and properly fulfill your responsibilities to the estate.

At McCunn Law, we recognize that your loved one’s legacy is at stake, so we provide the comprehensive, compassionate representation you need to navigate every step of the probate process. We can help you determine whether probate is necessary in your situation, understand which assets may be exempted from the probate process, and help you resolve any issues you encounter. Contact McCunn Law today to speak with our El Dorado estate protection attorneys.

Why Choose McCunn Law

Our methods for handling business owner divorce and family law issues are unique. We offer legal assistance for a range of family law cases, including:

Mr. McCunn specializes in a holistic, project management approach which empowers you to make your own decisions throughout the process. He has a reputation as a peacemaker and his honest and pragmatic attitude towards divorce and other family law issues ensures you only pay for the services you need during your case.

“McCunn Law is a high-quality and highly knowledgeable legal team. I went into a consultation regarding child custody and was extremely happy with the plan and ultimately the results of my case. They create a plan with the client’s needs and wants in mind. Drummond is also great working with regarding what kind of budget a client would be able to afford. If I have any more legal needs in the future this is the office I will use every time.”

Megan P.

“McCunn Law is a high-quality and highly knowledgeable legal team. I went into a consultation regarding child custody and was extremely happy with the plan and ultimately the results of my case. They create a plan with the client’s needs and wants in mind. Drummond is also great working with regarding what kind of budget a client would be able to afford. If I have any more legal needs in the future this is the office I will use every time.”

Megan P.

“McCunn Law is a high-quality and highly knowledgeable legal team. I went into a consultation regarding child custody and was extremely happy with the plan and ultimately the results of my case. They create a plan with the client’s needs and wants in mind. Drummond is also great working with regarding what kind of budget a client would be able to afford. If I have any more legal needs in the future this is the office I will use every time.”

Megan P.