What Is Probate?

What Is Probate Court?

When a person dies, there’s a process for deciding what should happen to their property and assets (their “estate”). Even if there’s a will, it must be proven valid before it will be followed. 

Settling an estate involves going through various steps and following many legal rules – a process known as “probate”. The probate law practice of Alice A. Salvo represents clients in the Los Angeles area through the process of probate. If you are interested in learning more about probate or just what is probate court, the information below will be informative.
Probate court is the specific type of court that handles the property and debt of an individual who has passed. The judge uses probate law to divide assets and pay creditors.

Probate court is difficult to navigate if you don’t know what to expect. In our practice we accomplish many things, from determining the value of the estate, to distributing assets to beneficiaries, to settling any outstanding debts.

Probate law and managing a case can be a long and burdensome process. In fact, many people take steps to avoid the probate court altogether. If you are interested in learning more about estate planning to avoid probate, please contact our probate law practice. 

Otherwise, we can help your family through the process of probate and address any questions or concerns you have along the way.

What Happens in Probate Court?

The probate process usually works as follows. 

  • First, the court checks if the deceased person left a will and if it’s valid. 
  • Next, an executor or representative is appointed. The estate representative is usually named in the will. What happens in probate court when there is no will is slightly different. 
  • After calculating how much the estate is worth, debts and estate taxes are paid.
  • An effort should be made to contact every person named in the will.
  • The assets are divided between the heirs and beneficiaries.  

The Pros And Cons Of The Probate Process

There are pros and cons to probate. 

The main disadvantages? Probate is time-consuming, stressful, and expensive.

  • Sometimes probate can take a year or even longer if there’s a dispute.
  • The estate needs to pay various filing fees to the court, lawyers, and other professionals. These fees quickly add up.

There are upsides to probate, though. 

  • Probate succession laws give families certainty at a difficult time. 
  • There’s a clear legal process to determine if a will is valid or not, so disputes are less likely.

Sometimes probate is legally required. Call our probate attorneys to check whether an estate needs to go through probate or not in your jurisdiction.

Dying Without A Will

When someone dies without a will, the state assumes responsibility for administering his or her estate. Dying without a will is known as dying “intestate.” 

The problem with dying intestate is that you have no say in how your assets are divided. Your family has little control over the process and disputes are more likely because your wishes are not known. Dying intestate can make an already difficult time even more upsetting for everyone involved.

For small estates, dying without a will often does not present many legal challenges. However, for high-value estates, it is advisable to contact our experienced probate law practice and speak to a probate attorney about possible legal options.

Avoiding Probate

As mentioned, people often try to avoid probate. You can sometimes avoid probate in California or at least simplify the process.

  • Small estates may qualify for a simpler, shorter probate procedure. 
  • You can also bypass probate or speed matters along if there’s a joint tenancy, living trust, or transfer-on-death deed.
  • Some benefits can also be collected without going through probate first.

Our experienced lawyers can explain how you might avoid probate or speed up matters.   

Contact A Los Angeles Probate Law Attorney

Probate can be a difficult process. Attorney Alice Salvo believes in making probate simple to understand. Our estate assets lawyers will help you complete probate as quickly as possible – often, we can complete probate sooner than other law firms.

If you want to know more about what happens in probate court or if you have any questions about estate planning, call our offices. Our probate attorneys can review your situation and help you through this difficult time.

For a free consultation,

Please contact us online or call 818-676-9572 for a free consultation.