What is Probate? | Bakerink, McCusker & Belden
When someone dies, his or her will is submitted to a probate court for validation. The court will determine whether the will is valid or invalid, and officially appoint the executor of the will. Since probate can be a complex process , it’s advisable to consult a lawyer in Tracy or Manteca if you’ve been appointed as the executor. An experienced will attorney can also represent the heirs of the estate, particularly if there could be a problem with the will.
Watch this video to learn more about the probate process, including potential problems. For instance, someone may contest the validity of the will by claiming that it wasn’t properly witnessed or that the decedent was coerced into signing it. In most cases, probate proceeds without these issues.
What Is Probate?
After someone passes away in Tracy or Livermore, the probate process can begin. Probate is the process of filing a petition with the court to admit the will into probate or, in the absence of a will, appointing an estate administrator. When wills enter probate, they are publicly accessible. The decedent’s assets are inventoried and then the assets are transferred from the decedent to the heirs.
When you watch this video, you’ll hear a little more about probate and why some people might wish to avoid it. Since wills that enter into probate are publicly accessible, some people wish to avoid probate due to privacy concerns. It is also possible that the will may be contested. If you have any concerns about probate, a lawyer who handles estate planning cases can help you.
Finance & Investment Tips: What is the Probate Process
Probate is a process whereby an individual passes away without a will, or with a will and not a trust, and must go through a lengthy court process. To avoid having your surviving loved ones deal with the court process or state rules on your personal financial matters, speak to an attorney about your estate administration in Tracy .
If your estate ends up in probate, your assets will be completely tied up until a judge determines that creditors and tax obligations are satisfied. While an estate planning attorney can still offer assistance with probate matters, the process takes longer, costs more, and is more public than if a last will and testament had been left. Probate is completely avoidable if you arrange your financial affairs with an attorney before you pass away. By creating a will and trust, you can ensure that your assets will be equitably and efficiently divided according to your wishes.
Answering FAQs about Estate Planning
Regardless of how substantial or modest an estate is, estate planning is essential. By working with an estate planning lawyer in Tracy or Livermore, you can ensure that your final wishes will be carried out. It’s not uncommon for individuals to try to handle their own estate planning needs. However, this is usually not a good idea. An estate planning attorney can help you with so much more than just drafting your will; he or she will make sure your will is valid and can be upheld in court. Your attorney can also help you make informed decisions by explaining estate planning options that you may not yet be aware of.
What Happens If I Die Intestate?
When a person dies intestate, it means that he or she has passed on without a will. After this occurs, that individual’s estate is subject to division according to state laws. Typically, assets are distributed to immediate family members, such as the surviving spouse and children. This could be problematic for those who do not want their assets to go to these individuals.
What Is Probate?
State laws for probate vary. In general, however, it is the process by which a will is recognized as valid and the executor is given the authority to distribute assets. Probate is supervised by the court. It is possible to avoid probate by transferring assets to a trust. If a trust is created, a trustee will transfer assets to the appropriate parties after your death.
How Is a Will Made Valid?
Ensuring that the will is valid is one of the many benefits of having a lawyer handle your estate planning. In order to execute a will, you must sign it in front of witnesses.
What Happens If I Own Joint Property?
There are some limitations on what a will can and can’t do. For example, it cannot direct the transfer of jointly owned property. For example, if you own a house with your spouse, full ownership will transfer to your spouse upon your death. Joint ownership offers some advantages. If you wish, you can add a family member’s name to a bank account, for example, and specify that the individual has the right of survivorship. This means that upon your death, that individual would have access to funds in that account to pay your bills and funeral expenses.
State Certification in Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law
Michael C. Belden is an estate planning lawyer in Tracy who is also a specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law, certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization. This program is a California Supreme Court-approved method for certifying attorneys as specialists in different areas of law. In earning this distinction, Mr. Belden had to successfully pass a written examination, attend a number of education programs, complete specific tasks in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate, and undergo a peer review.
In order for Mr. Belden to register to become an estate law specialist, he needed to practice in the specialty area for a certain period of time. Once Mr. Belden passed the Legal Specialist Examination, he is eligible to continue on in the certification process. Through this rigorous process, the State Bar of California ensures that Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law specialists have the knowledge and experience necessary to help his clients.
Meet Attorney Michael C. Belden
At Bakerink, McCusker & Belden , our attorneys in Tracy are dedicated to providing our valued clientele with comprehensive legal guidance in our areas of specialization. Attorney Michael C. Belden, one of our partners, has extensive experience in the areas of estate planning, probate, trust administration, and bankruptcy. In 2014, the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization granted Mr. Belden the designation of Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law. The exhaustive certification process involved a number of continuing education programs, peer reviews, and an intensive examination.
Before Mr. Belden joined our law firm, he served as Assistant Banking Center Manager for Bank of America. He later reviewed appellate cases for the Civil Justice Association of California. Mr. Belden joined the law offices of Bakerink & McCusker as a law clerk in 2003, focusing on estate planning and related matters. He graduated from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 2005 and was subsequently admitted to the California State Bar. Since joining our law offices, Mr. Belden has demonstrated an exemplary commitment to client education and counseling.
Understanding the Probate Process
Probate is the process of sorting through the assets of a deceased individual and passing them on to inheritors and creditors. Probate is supervised by a court. It can be a lengthy, complicated process, and many individuals who are chosen as executors feel overwhelmed by the idea of handling these affairs. If you have been named an executor, contact a lawyer with Bakerink, McCusker & Belden right away to discuss probate and your responsibilities. The first step your attorney will take is to arrange for the court to officially designate you as the executor.
Once you are officially designated as the executor, you have a number of tasks ahead of you. As your lawyer in Tracy with Bakerink, McCusker & Belden can explain to you, you’ll need to file the original will, death certificate, and petition for probate in the court. You’ll need to publish a notice of probate and mail notices to all known creditors, along with the beneficiaries and heirs. Then, the court will require you to file proof that you did indeed fulfill those responsibilities. Your lawyer with Bakerink, McCusker & Belden will walk you through handling other responsibilities, including dealing with taxes, resolving debts, and distributing remaining assets.
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