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Understanding the probate process in Sacramento: What are the different stages involved?

Probate Litigation

About How Long Is The Probate Timeline in Sacramento, Ca.?

If your loved one dies without a will (or estate plan), the Sacramento courts must get involved, and all assets usually must go through the time-consuming, often challenging process of Probate. This complicated legal process is known as probating the estate, and the California rules are legally complex, time-consuming, and usually overwhelming.

If you do not know how the courts handle the probate process, then it can cost you months of delays and countless, frustrating hours attempting to figure everything out by yourself; this is a necessary and vital task, but the last thing you want to be doing after losing a loved one.

If there is no will or professional estate plan, an executor (commonly a close relative or family member) must be chosen immediately to take charge of your loved one’s estate.

The executor (who may have no prior experience in these matters) must collect and gather all the information on your loved ones’ assets, notify all creditors, pay any outstanding bills, and then distribute any remaining assets to the beneficiaries or heirs; this must be done, however, with the court’s approval.

The complexity of the estate will usually determine how long this process will take and how many times you may have to appear in court. However, these timelines for probate cases can commonly vary from 8 months to several years.

If the case involves tax issues, conflict, or litigation, the process can take significantly longer to complete. Also, you must note that while an estate is in probate, the family, heirs, and other possible beneficiaries may get nothing until the court finalizes the process.

Most families don’t understand the challenging complexities of California probate and that the most critical decision for you to make is to enlist the help of a skilled, compassionate, and experienced Sacramento probate lawyer. Doing so will save you time, money, and the horrific stress of attempting to navigate this process yourself while grieving for a possibly dire loss.

Are There Basic Steps My Lawyer and I Must Take to Go Through Probate?

Therefore, every estate and probate process differs, but some things must legally stay the same.

If your loved one died without a will, or they didn’t specify any person to be the executor, then the Sacramento court will appoint someone to manage the process. This court-appointed person will take over possession and management of all estate property, oversee and carry out the necessary steps, and ultimately distribute the property to the heirs and beneficiaries.

The most crucial steps the executor must follow to navigate the probate process are:

  • File a proper petition in probate court – This is the first step to begin the probate process and must be filed in the California Superior Court in the county where your loved one lived when they died. This petition will trigger a hearing in the court in about 30 days (or longer if the court is backed up).
  • Issue notices to all the heirs and creditors – Once filed, the notice of hearing will be published at least three times in the newspaper and must be mailed to everyone named in the will, as well as any legal heirs and possible creditors.
  • Proving a Will, if that pertains – If a Will exists, then the executor must “prove” unless this already has been done. The will may contain an affidavit from all the witnesses, making it unnecessary to prove its validity.
  • Collection of all property in the deceased’s estate – The personal representative (or executor) will take possession of all assets in the estate that are subject to probate (there is property that is exempt from probate); any transfer of property is the responsibility of the personal representative, and the courts must have a complete inventory of all estate property.
  • Paying all valid creditors and taxes if necessary – Notice of death must be provided to all creditors, and those with legitimate debts will submit a claim (the creditors have up to four months to do so). The personal representative (or executor) must also ensure that all estate and income taxes are paid before any distributions are made to the deceased heirs or beneficiaries.
  • Closing of the estate by the probate court – To finalize the probate process, the executor must submit a full accounting of all transactions made concerning the estate. Then, the executor will file a petition with the court that comprehensively summarizes the estate and all actions taken.

This is a very simplistic view of the Sacramento probate process, and many things may significantly increase the complexity and severity of the entire process. Therefore, using a skilled, knowledgeable, and fully experienced Sacramento probate lawyer is mandatory if you want it done correctly.

How Can a Probate Lawyer Help Me Through This Critical Legal Process?

Even a relatively “simple” estate requires legal knowledge that commonly family members do not have. With the help of a professional, you will receive numerous and varied types of legal support, such as planning, providing advice on powers of attorney, drafting a Will or Trust, or representing the executor or administrator.

Your detail-oriented probate lawyer can help with the following;

  • Filing all federal and state tax returns correctly.
  • Acquiring needed appraisals for property if sales must be made.
  • Collect all estate assets that must be valued correctly.
  • Negotiating with creditors and their demands for payment.
  • And expediting the process by being familiar with all aspects of the Sacramento probate courts.

Are There Ways to Avoid Probate in Sacramento?

Any experienced estate planning or probate lawyer will tell you that avoiding probate in California can save you a lot of time, money, stress, and outright confusion, and there are legal and sound ways to do so.

Just some of the ways to avoid probate in California are;

  • Plan and draft a Living Trust.
  • Set up joint ownership of most or all of your assets.
  • Payable-on-Death mandates on your bank accounts.
  • Transfer-on-death registrations if securities are involved.
  • And many more.

The best and wise way to avoid the costly, time-consuming probate process is to plan and obtain a consultation with your Sacramento estate planning or probate lawyer. Your lawyer will analyze your estate and your wishes and ensure that all will go as planned upon your death or incapacitation.

I Must Go Through Probate in Sacramento; How Should I Proceed?

You’re already mourning the death of a loved one and now find that you must go through the arduous, stressful, and confusing Sacramento probate process. As noted, this process is always challenging and must be done right, or you’ll spend months dealing with the courts.

The Yonano Law Offices have guided myriad families through this dire process. They ensured it was done precisely as Sacramento law dictates and will always have your family’s best interests at heart.

Call them today at (916) 894-8790, and they will take all the time needed to address and resolve all your concerns and aggressively fight for your and your family’s rights.

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