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What Is Probate?

Probate is the court-supervised process of authenticating a will.

The probate process includes locating and determining the value of the deceased’s assets, paying his or her final expenses (taxes, bills, debts) and distributing the remainder of the estate to the rightful beneficiaries.

During this process, a probate court validates the will and authorizes an executor to distribute the estate to the rightful beneficiaries, as well as pay debts the deceased owed.

Most estates can benefit from having an experienced probate attorney to help the heirs navigate the often complicated probate process.

Christopher Johnson, Attorney at Law, has been providing answers and solutions for probate matters for over 23 years. If you have questions about the probate process or are looking for a way to simplify probate for you future heirs, Chris Johnson can help. Contact him today at (888) 503-7615 or click the button below to set up a free consultation.

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The Probate Process

Probate involves several basic steps:

  • An executor of the estate is named, usually within the will. If there is no will or no executor is named in the will, the probate court uses its best judgment, and the priority of persons listed in the Probate Code, to appoint an administrator of the estate.
  • The will is validated in the court of law.
  • The deceased person's property is identified and cataloged. The deceased’s assets cannot be sold without court permission, and the majority of the deceased's assets cannot be distributed until the probate process is complete.
  • The deceased’s property is appraised.
  • Any taxes or debts owed by the deceased are paid.
  • The remaining assets are distributed according to the deceased’s wishes, or if there is no will in accordance to state law if there is not a will.

Probate Attorney

Chris Johnson has years of experience guiding families through the probate process.

Don't hesitate to contact our office if you need help:

  • Collecting and managing life insurance proceeds;
  • Getting property appraised;
  • Locating and securing your loved one's assets;
  • Figuring out how to pay the deceased's pay bills and settle debts;
  • Preparing and filing documents required by probate court;
  • Determining if someone should receive power of attorney;
  • Determining if any estate taxes are owed.
  • He can also help when there’s a will contest or a need to remove the executor.

  • Probate Court

    Probate court is a specialized type of court that deals with the assets and debts of a deceased person. The judge presiding over the court has the responsibility of assuring that the detected person's creditors are paid and that the remaining assets of the estate are distributed to the proper beneficiaries.

    Probate Litigation

    Probate litigation is the process of challenging a provision of a will, a codicil (addition) to a will, the appointment of the personal representative, or the entire contents of a will.

    A will can be challenged if it was created under any of the following circumstances:

    • The will wasn't signed in accordance with applicable state laws.
    • The deceased did not have testamentary capacity to sign a will.
    • The deceased was unduly influenced into making a will against his/her volition.
    • A clerical error or a failure on the part of the person preparing the will to understand the testator’s instructions.
    • The will is a forgery or a fraud.

    Of course, if you are considering entering into probate litigation, then we urge you to contact us for more information.

    How Long Does Probate Take?

    Normally, the probate process takes six to nine months to complete after the probate case is opened with a court.

    The length of time can vary depending on the court system and especially if there are challenges to the legality of the will or the distribution of assets.

    What is Not Included in Probate?

    Some assets qualify as non-probate assets, such as life insurance policies that designate a beneficiary or bank accounts with a "payable upon death" beneficiary named as part of a legal contract. Real estate held in joint names with the rights of survivorship can bypass the probate process as well.

    Assets passing to a surviving spouse can also pass outside of probate in many cases, but it’s sometimes necessary to file a spousal property petition to get the assets into their name.

    If you are looking to help your family avoid the probate process, Chris Johnson can help you organize your estate to make probate as simple as possible for your family and loved ones and in some cases help you avoid probate altogether.

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    What If There is No Will and Testament?

    When someone dies without leaving a legal will, he or she has died “intestate.”

    When a person dies in intestacy, the responsibility of determining the distributions of their assets falls to probate court. Additionally, an intestacy can come about if the deceased's will was found to be invalid, through means of fraud or a legal error.

    When there is no will present or the deceased did not name an executor of their estate, then the state will step in and provide a list of possible executors, known as “administrators.” The administrator will then be chosen during probate court proceedings.

    The surviving spouse or registered domestic partner is usually the court's first choice for administrator. If there is no spouse, then adult children are the court's next likely choice, followed by other family members.

    Intestacy rules vary significantly depending on the state. California is a community property state, which means all community property will pass to the surviving spouse if there’s no will, and any separate property is shared among the surviving spouse and children. If there’s no spouse, the law specifies the relatives who are entitled to inherit.

    If you are trying to sort out the estate of a loved one who did not leave a will, you should contact an experienced probate attorney to help you put your loved one's estate in order and ensure that you receive your rightful inheritance.

    The absence of a will makes settling an estate even more complicated. If you are dealing with an intestate estate, contacting an experienced probate attorney is the first step in helping you and your family deal with your loved one's estate.

    Set Up a Free Consultation

    The Law Offices of Christopher B. Johnson have been providing answers and solutions for probate matters for over 23 years. You can continue to research and spend hours online or speak to someone who can really help. Call (888) 503-7615 or click the button below to schedule your free consultation.

    Set Up A FREE Consultation

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    Pasadena, CA 91101

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    Chino Hills, CA 91709

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