A San Diego probate attorney is the person that you should turn to to get assistance with the onerous process of California probate and help counsel you and your family when a loved one has recently passed away. There are many different phases associated with probate in California and hiring the right San Diego probate attorney can help you to avoid many of the most common missteps involved in this process and also give you greater clarity and peace of mind during an otherwise difficult time. Probate administration is the official process that happens when a person passes away. A person’s probated assets are collected, their creditors and taxes are then paid, and any assets left over are ultimately distributed to beneficiaries. Probate assets include every asset that the deceased maintained in his or her individual name when they pass away. In the event that the person left behind a will, the will determines the distribution of those assets, unless there is a dispute the will was valid in and of itself. All of these situations require the insight and counsel of a probate lawyer who is highly knowledgeable and dedicated to efficiently guiding their clients through probate since there is little room for mistakes.
A person who is named as the executor maintains a responsibility to file the will with the court and officially petition to open the probate process. When the petition is granted, the probate process officially begins. The executor’s primary responsibility after being approved as the estate executor is to give notice of the estate administration. California state statutes determine who has to receive notice and how this notification needs to occur. Any party who could potentially have an interest in the estate is typically someone who needs to be notified. The executor must also take steps to advertise the estate such that any creditors of the decedent has an opportunity to make their claims. The executor then reviews all of those claims and ensures that they are all appropriately paid out from assets inside the estate. These claims must be paid before any beneficiaries can receive distributions from the estate. After the advertising an appropriate notice period has passed, the executor needs to locate and gather all of the decedent’s assets. Once the debts have been completely satisfied or nullified through contesting their validity and/or amount, all of the remaining assets will be distributed in line with the decedent’s will.
In addition to a will, there may be other estate planning strategies and tools in place including a trust which is governed by the rules surrounding trust administration. A living trust is a legal entity that contains the instructions for what will happen to assets after you die. Unlike a will, however, a living trust avoids the probate process at death and allows you to control all of your assets and prevent the court from taking control over these assets if you’re incapacitated via trust administration. It’s why estate planning with a living trust is almost always preferred over estate planning done with a last will and testament. The death of a trust maker can generate significant problems for everyone affected by the trust. This means that a successor trustee steps in upon the death of the trust maker to handle administrative and related matters. The trustee has an important responsibility for overseeing that the trust assets are distributed properly and in a timely fashion. A San Diego trust attorney is crucial for this process to be handled effectively.
There are many different situations involved in this process that can be aided by a knowledgeable trust administration lawyer in San Diego. This includes:
1. Gathering all trust assets.
2. Reviewing the trust document itself.
3. Explaining trustee responsibilities to the person who is stepping in for administration.
4. Making required notices to all interested parties.
5. Income tax planning.
6. Estate tax analysis services.
7. Collection of any death benefits.
8. Creation of sub-trusts (highly complex).
9. Dissolution of the trust.
You may also need the help of an experienced San Diego Probate & Trust Lawyer if you lost a loved one who died without a will or a living trust. Understanding the options available to you and how the court is likely to move forward with probate administration is paramount. There are many different questions that must be answered over the duration of this process and having the support of a lawyer who has helped others in these difficult situations is strongly recommended. A person who has a role of probating an estate and particularly a person who serves as a trustee over a trust has important responsibilities to the beneficiaries and must be clear of his or her rights and duties as outlined under the trust and applicable laws. Knowing what to expect and ensuring that all of these procedures are followed appropriately can help to minimize the potential for disputes and allegations that somebody breached their duty and accompanying personal liability. The support of a lawyer is extremely important during this otherwise challenging time and an attorney’s support should be sought immediately after it becomes clear that an estate needs to be probated or a trust administered.