In general, probate is the process used to distribute a person’s estate after they pass away. This process also encompasses many other aspects related to administration of a deceased person’s estate. Depending on the circumstances, probate can be done through a formal process involving court appearances, or informally through submitting paperwork. Our probate attorneys can provide legal advice and representation for those who need to utilize the probate process.
Through this process, the personal representative or executor of an estate receives authorization from the court to act on behalf of the deceased person. This authorization is often required to transfer title to property and to access a deceased person’s accounts.
Persons who are heirs to an estate, or otherwise have an interest in the estate, are entitled to receive notice and to participate in the proceedings. These individuals are entitled to receive accounting information from the personal representative. Persons who have an interest in the estate sometimes need their own independent attorney to protect their interests.
Probate also allows a deceased person’s creditors to attempt to collect on debts that are still outstanding at the time of the death. Action may be taken during the process to limit the time period within which creditors may collect on a debt. Also, certain items of property may be exempt from the collection efforts of creditors. An attorney will know how to utilize the law to place limitations on creditors and maximize the disbursements to heirs.
Does every estate require court intervention?
Not every estate requires this process. It may be required if title to certain property needs to be transferred or if there is dispute among the deceased person’s heirs about how property should be divided. An attorney can review an estate to determine what action is necessary.
With some assets, such as life insurance, bank accounts and retirement accounts, ownership is transferred automatically upon the owner’s death to designated beneficiaries. These assets can transfer without the need to go through the process.
In addition, property held in trust or otherwise transferred into a trust at a person’s death, may avoid the need for this process.
What can be done to avoid court involvement in an estate?
Through careful estate planning, a person can avoid the need to go through the process. While estate administration using the courts is not necessarily a bad thing, many prefer to avoid it for a variety of reasons. These can include:
- Keeping estate matters private
- Potential tax consequences
- Reduce the chance of conflict among heirs
- Reduce the amount of administrative costs
- Avoid legal fees and costs
An experienced attorney can help you take steps while you are living to plan for your death. Some things that an attorney can assist with to avoid the process include:
- Creation of a trust
- Assets with right of survivorship
- Designation of beneficiaries
- Inter vivos gifts
Contact Our Probate Attorneys
The probate attorneys at Lowthorp Richards have experience with the complicated process of estate administration and estate administration litigation. Our attorneys protect the interests of clients and provide legal advice about how to handle various issues as they arise.
The legal team at Lowthorp Richards is available to assist with variety of estate issues. We serve clients in Oxnard, CA and throughout the surrounding areas. Our attorneys strive to help their clients understand how the law applies to them. Contact us at 805.981.8555 to consult with a probate attorney.