What is probate and when is it required?

Probate is the process, required by law after someone passes away, to properly dispose of that person’s assets.  In California, probate is required if the total assets of the decedent’s estate are greater than $150,000.00.

The first thing you need to do is find a local probate attorney to petition the probate court to accept the executor named in the will.  Once the court accepts this person, he or she can begin to inventory the assets of the deceased.

Creditors must be notified by posting a notice of the death of the testator in the local paper and must be given six months to file any outstanding claims.  Once all claims have been settled, using the assets from the estate, the executor can distribute the remaining assets as directed in the will.

This process usually takes a year to complete but can take much longer if there are any complications or contests to the will.

A good probate attorney will lead you through this process and help assure that the wishes of the testator are complied with.

 

 

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Did you ever notice how easy it is to avoid doing something you don’t want to do?

Have you thought you should write your will, but you never get around to doing it?

Unless you are powerfully motivated, either to make sure somebody is taken care of in your absence, or to keep somebody else from getting your assets, it’s probably not on your “things to do today” list.

We hear the term “will” frequently, but what is it, exactly?

A will tells our heirs what we want done with our property after we die. It can be handwritten, prepared by a lawyer after a discussion on your circumstances and wishes, or you can record a video where you tell your heirs, or those who think they should be, what you want done with your property. This is referred to as “the disposition of your assets.”

A will can be as simple as a few words written in blood on a tractor fender when the writer realized his death was imminent, as described in Wikipedia.  Or it can be a detailed plan for the itemized distribution of every asset, owned or potential. Most people find something in between those extremes.  Either way, it is wise to think about it and make a plan that fits your choices.  It is, of course, one of those things that may not be done the way you want if you wait too long.

It is our goal to make you aware of some of your choices, and some of the terminology, which may be foreign to many people. For example, a testator is the person who makes the will and decides how his property is to be distributed, to whom and in what form. You may also hear of a holographic will, in which the essential elements are written in the testator’s handwriting, instead of being typed or printed.

Another term you may hear is undue influence, which means just what it says: somebody may appear to have controlled the testator’s actions or decisions in some way that the testator otherwise would not have done. Undue influence is presumed if:

A beneficiary is one of the two required witnesses to the will, or
A person with a confidential (lawyer-client, doctor-patient, clergy-penitent) relationship with the testator, improperly benefits from that relationship.

We will discuss this further. If you have any questions, please e-mail us.

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Jill’s Blog for the week of February 10, 2014:

February 10, 2014

Sometimes we forget how long ago and how diligently we studied to learn the language of the law. Sometimes we forget that not everybody is comfortable with those words. Here are a few definitions (paraphrased from Black’s Law Dictionary) so we all know what we mean: Disinherit: when someone who expects to be in the [...]

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Jill’s Blog – Planning for the Future February 3, 2014

February 3, 2014

Are you hoping that if you don’t think about it, you won’t die?  Nice thought, but most of us do not achieve immortality. So far, we cannot take it with us, at least not in a usable fashion. This blog is for those who, reluctantly, acknowledge the need to make some preparations. We suggest you start [...]

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Jill’s Blog for the week of January 27, 2014

January 27, 2014

Why did we decide to go with a virtual law office instead of the traditional brick and mortar? We went to a virtual law school instead of a brick and mortar school. We learned what can be done on the internet with experience and creativity.  We became comfortable attending lectures where we could see and [...]

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Jill’s Blog: Advance Directive for Health Care – January 20, 2014

January 20, 2014

What’s an Advance Directive for Health Care? Why might I need or want one? An Advance Directive for Health Care is exactly what it sounds like: It speaks for you if you cannot speak for yourself. It lets you choose while you can, and lets a person you choose speak for you if you cannot. [...]

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Welcome to the Stuart E. Richardson, Esq., Blog!

January 10, 2014

Welcome to the Web site of Stuart E. Richardson’s law firm! This is our first blog post. Our goal is to make regular posts in this blog in the areas of Wills and Trusts, Corporate Law, and Collection matters. Our posts will be mostly designed to educate our readers in these areas.  These areas of [...]

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