Probate court addresses the assets of an individual’s estate when they pass away. It is a long and slow process, but can be a necessary one. One of the primary goals of estate planning (wills, trusts, etc.) is to avoid probate. Not only does the creation of such instruments save time for the next generation inheriting such assets, but the costs and attorneys fees associated with probate are better avoided where possible.
However, there are certain situations where probate is unavoidable, and our firm is experienced, well-versed in probate procedures, and dedicating to making the process as smooth and quick as possible for our clients.
If a loved one passes away with a simple will naming you as a beneficiary, or if you are a family member and they had no will, then steps will need to be taken to address their assets. Such steps depend largely on the nature and value of their assets.
The probate process, on average, takes about a year. We must petition the court to admit a will to probate, or if there is no will, to open the estate and appoint an administrator to represent the estate. Once an administrator or personal representative is appointed, that person then has the authority to act on behalf of the estate, communicate with banks and other financial institutions, and conduct any other business necessary to close the estate. What is generally the largest task within probate is the accounting, wherein the Court needs to be presented with an accounting of any and all assets and debts within the estate, and ultimately what will be done with them.
Contact Thompson Law with your questions, comments or concerns.
Wills / Testament
A will or testament is a legal document by which a person, the testator, expresses his or her wishes as to how his or her property is to be distributed at death, and names one or more persons, the executor, to manage the estate until its final distribution. The Last Will and Testament is undoubtedly the most well-known estate planning tool. In California, a will is a document that you can create to provide instructions on the distribution of your assets and property at the time of your death. When drafted in a legally sound manner and implemented in conjunction with a living trust, this document can provide invaluable assistance to your loved ones when determining your final affairs.
If you pass away without creating a will, California will handle the distribution of your estate based on “intestacy” law. In simple terms, this means that the state will give your property to your closest living relatives. If you have no living relatives by blood or marriage, the state will inherit your property. When the state is tasked with handling a person’s estate, the outcome will oftentimes contradict what the deceased person would have actually wanted. For this reason, creating a will ahead of time and periodically reviewing its terms is crucial to ensuring your wishes are honored.
In addition to drafting a will, creating a living trust is another key aspect of a comprehensive estate plan. While a will can determine how you wish to have your estate distributed upon your passing, a living trust simplifies this process and can help your family avoid expensive and complex probate proceedings.
Living trusts are generally preferred when you own real property, or if you have a large estate. If you simply have a will, your real property will still need to be transferred out of your name on death. Naming a beneficiary in a will advises the court who you want to have receive the real property, but you will still have to go through probate or a probate procedure in order to effect that transfer of ownership. Almost anyone who owns real property should have a living trust.
Contact our Thompson Law Firm with your questions, comments or concerns.
F.L. Thompson, Esq.Attorney
Since graduating from Whittier Law School in 2008, Francis Lutie Thompson has practiced family, criminal and probate law in all the branch courts of Kern County and throughout the State of California.Send Mail
Adriana DueñasHead Paralegal
Adriana attended San Joaquin Valley College where she earned her Associate of Science in Business Administration. In addition to being our most experienced paralegal, Adriana is the Firm’s Notary Public.Send Mail
Mayra FernandezParalegal & Accountant
Mayra attended Santa Barbara Business College where she earned her Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies. Mayra works closely with all of our clients to make sure that they are clear on their financial obligation to the Firm, as well as the Firm’s responsibility to them.Send Mail
Kirian CastroLegal Secretary
She is responsible for calendaring and for handling and otherwise managing all aspects of Mr. Thompson’s schedule. Kirian is efficient and helps what is needed to do in the firm.Send Mail