As all probate attorneys recognize, the California Probate Code is an expansive set of statutes that sets for the numerous procedures that may arise in a California probate case. The probate code is huge with significant details pertaining to even the most obscure situations. Experienced and qualified probate attorneys are familiar with these myriad procedures. But first, the basics on probate proceedings in California must be understood.
Why Someone Involved in a Probate Proceeding Needs to Know the Probate Code
The probate code is a collection of statutes on a myriad of issues related to wills and estates. There is a Uniform Probate Code (UPC) which was created for the purpose of simplifying the probate process and standardizing the laws regarding wills, trusts, and intestacy. Although California has not adopted the UPC, many of the California Probate Code’s sections were modeled on UPC provisions. Still, there are substantial differences between these Codes.
Probate attorneys can appear in court throughout the State
In California, there is something called “Court Call” which allows probate attorneys to appear telephonically in many probate courts throughout California. This means that you can hire Sacramento probate attorneys to handle any probate matter regardless of wherever you live in California. Court Call means your attorney can “appear” by telephone while you appear in person in the court room. This procedure has allowed for flexibility in hiring experienced probate attorneys from anywhere in the state.
Probate referees can be flexible
A probate referee is the person appointed by a probate judge to perform the appraisal of assets in a probate estate. These state officials are generally very good at their job and they have a good degree of flexibility. The appraisals they perform are merely an estimate of the value of certain property, so the more information they are provided during the probate process the more accurate a probate referee’s appraisal will be.
Keep the peace as much as possible through the probate process
Although will contests and other disputes may be a part of the probate process, you should keep in mind that probate judges would much prefer a peaceful process. Probate judges would rather not see any unnecessary disputes in the courtroom. In fact, in most cases, they are disappointed to see heirs fighting over inheritances or heirlooms. Instead, they will do all they can to help you work things out without a courtroom battle.
The probate process takes many months and may be filled with obstacles
Probate proceedings are expected to last at least six or more months and the process can be filled with obstacles for which you need to be prepared. Having probate attorneys in your corner assisting you throughout the process is important if you want to probate to go smoothly. Typically, the faster you can close the probate estate, the better. Family members are interested in receiving their inheritances and getting on with their lives. Again, with the help of an experienced and qualified probate attorney, you can keep the probate process moving along at an efficient pace.
What do probate proceedings involve?
“Probate” is the legal process in which the assets and debts of the deceased are handled by the court. Your estate is distributed to your heirs after your creditors have been paid. The probate process is supervised entirely by the probate court and involves all components of estate administration.
Why should you hire a probate attorneys?
Some attorneys specialize in assisting an executor or personal representative through the entire probate process from beginning to end. They can be an invaluable resource because the laws are complex and there are numerous requirements imposed by the probate court many of which are unknown except by experienced practitioners. In fact, the first piece of advice for a personal representative is “hire an attorney.”
In addition to the complexities of the legal process of probate that can easily overwhelm a lay person, the personal representative of an estate (e.g., executor or administrator) is held in his or her performance to the very high legal standard of a fiduciary. Failing to meet your fiduciary responsibilities could lead to personal liability for the representative.
If you have questions regarding probate or any other estate planning matters, please contact us at the Northern California Center for Estate Planning and Elder Law for a consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us at (916) 437-3500. We are here to help!