Probate Attorney Fontana

Probate refers to the legal process of finalizing a person’s affairs once they have passed away. This includes making sure that a person’s assets are distributed according to his or her wishes as outlined in a will, or if no will, according to California law.

In any case, dealing with the loss of a family member or someone close can be stressful, confusing and even overwhelming. The Hedtke Law Firm is dedicated to making probate as efficient and as easy as possible. We support our clients through each step of the probate process: from gathering and valuing assets, to sorting out income, estate, and capital gains taxes, to property sales if necessary. Our team knows you have enough to worry about, and we’re here to help you through this challenging time.

When someone dies, with a will or intestate (without a will), the estate (assets and liabilities of the deceased) must pass through a probate proceeding prior to distribution to heirs.  Probate serves six functions:

  • Provides a process for filing and validating a will;
  • Takes care of any outstanding debts and taxes that must be paid prior to distribution of the estate to heirs;
  • Uses a will to determine how the remaining assets should be distributed and, if no will exists, distributes assets based on formulas provided by California law;
  • Provides a forum whereby anyone with valid claims can contest the will for a variety of reasons;
  • Confirms an executor or administrator to perform the will’s instructions; and
  • In California, the probate court also monitors the executor or administrator’s actions and must approve final distribution of assets.

If the deceased resided in California at the time of death, then you must initiate your probate in the probate court of the county of the deceased’s residence.

If someone dies without leaving a will, probate is still required, and California’s probate law directs who receives the estate upon completion of the probate process.

Considerations that Complicate the Probate Process

A number of issues can make the probate process considerably more complex:

  • Outstanding debt or taxes: When outstanding debt forces the court to liquidate certain assets to repay creditors, it must then find ways to distribute the remaining assets in the most logical manner to uphold the wishes of the deceased
  • Will contests: California law defines specific legal grounds as the basis for declaring a will to be invalid.  Once the will is determined to be invalid, the court must then determine how to distribute the assets of the estate.  If no other will can be shown to be valid, the court must proceed as if the individual died without a will
  • No will: California law provides specific formulas and other considerations to be used to determine how an estate should be distributed when no will is in place

Questions Answered and Challenges Resolved

Clients often ask, “Do I need a probate lawyer?” The answer is an easy, “Yes,” because California probate becomes an even more challenging process if even one of the following problems develops:

  • The executor or administrator is outside California and needs assistance.
  • A will was not established by the decedent, or an existing will is missing.
  • Disputes and contests to the will surface, especially challenges to an executor or administrator’s appointment.
  • The executor or administrator is uncertain how to perform his or her responsibilities.
  • Debts are disputed, or who should be paid and how is not clear.
  • A probate filing is not filed on time or is defective in some other way.
  • Deadlines are unknown or missed for actions and/or filings.
  • Disputes surface affecting asset distribution or transfer of property.

A California probate attorney will help smooth your way through inevitable challenges in the probate process. Probate law in California is complicated and can be a burden to understand. For yourself, family and friends, loss of your loved one is emotionally and physically challenging enough. The tremendous additional responsibilities, challenges and stress of legal proceedings and paperwork may be the last thing you want to adopt.

 

We specialize in cost-effective, efficient and highly personalized guidance throughout the probate process. From initial paperwork and filing all the way to final distribution and court closure, we stand side-by-side with you as trusted counsel.

 

 

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