The probate process can be stressful for those who stand to inherit some or all of an estate. Probate courts have the authority to determine the validity of a will, oversee the distribution of property, and apply the state’s laws concerning intestacy.
Most people could benefit from legal help during this process. Whether you want to preserve your rights as an heir in a will, believe that a will is fraudulent, or need assistance when serving as the executor of an estate, a probate lawyer could help. A seasoned trusts and estates attorney could provide essential support to families after a loved one’s passing.
What is Probate?
Probate is the process whereby a state court oversees the administration of a decedent’s estate. In general, the role of the court is to ensure that any testamentary documents are genuine and empower executors to perform their roles as administrators of those estates.
According to California Probate Code § 8000, any interested party may ask the court to begin the probate process by submitting a petition to the court. This petition must include:
- The date and location of the death
- Information concerning the decedent’s heirs
- The name of the person who has a nomination to be the personal representative
- A copy of the decedent’s will
An attorney could help interested parties prepare petitions for a court to begin the probate process.
Defending Heirs’ During the Probate Process
Once the probate process begins, it is essential to understand one’s rights and obligations. Heirs may need to defend the legitimacy of a will. Those who stand to lose out on property in a will may wish to contest the will’s legality. An attorney with experience with the probate courts could determine if these actions are legitimate, and if so, represent a person’s interests before the court.
Understanding an Executor’s Obligations
A diligent attorney could also help executors to navigate their obligations under the rules of the probate court. Under CA Prob. Code § 8400, the court will issue letters of administration to executors. These letters allow the executor to pay debts, close bank accounts, sell property, and distribute assets as necessary to fulfill their duties. A proper fulfillment of these duties is a requirement under the law. A dedicated lawyer could help executors better understand these duties.
Let a Probate Attorney Take the Lead
Probate is the legal process that must occur for the distribution of assets and the payments of debts after a person’s death. To this end, the Probate Court has broad powers to determine the authenticity of testamentary documents, empower executors to perform their tasks under the law, and apply the state’s intestacy laws if necessary.
A probate lawyer could answer any questions you have about this process. If you are arguing for or against the validity of a will, an attorney from our firm could also represent you in court. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn how we could help you.