San Diego Probate Attorney Near You

When planning your estate, you want to have the assistance of the best San Diego estate planning lawyer. You will need guidance during this process, and having someone you trust is crucial to making the appropriate decision for you and your loved ones. Any decisions you make during the estate or probate process will impact your family long-term. You must work with a San Diego estate lawyer with experience putting together estate plans and handling the probate process.

Some of the most significant aspects of estate planning include tax liability, ensuring children end up with the appropriate parties, and dividing assets among beneficiaries. You can schedule a consultation with the San Diego estate planning attorney from Katzner Law Group to discuss which documents you need to get started. Estate laws change periodically, so you may have to update your plan accordingly.

Katzner Law Group is the best option for your estate planning needs because that is all we do. While some law firms offer services in various areas of law, our experience and attorneys focus on estate law. We have extensive experience in the nuances involved in estate law. We understand that there are opportunities for continuing education on these topics, and we stay abreast of new changes and how they affect our clients. Our lead San Diego estate planning lawyer strives to educate others about estate planning.

As mentioned, estate law can change periodically, and so can your life. You may get married, divorced, or have children. This means updating your estate plan. Katzner Law Group likes to meet with clients every two to three years to review their estate plans and make any necessary changes. This meeting allows you to let your estate plan grow with you.

You should choose Katzner Law Group for your estate planning for several reasons, including our reputation, compassion, kindness, and communication. Our San Diego estate planning attorney will promptly respond to your emails and phone calls. We work around your schedule, can arrange early morning calls, and strive to provide same-day responses.

Most importantly, we bring a human touch to your estate planning. We understand this is a complex topic and want to ensure your family’s needs come first. Our client reviews have made us one of the nation’s most loved estate planning law firms. You will meet directly with Attorney Gabriel Katzner and never be passed off to someone else. That is part of our human approach.

Gabriel Katnzer is the founding partner who obtained his Juris Doctorate from Fordham University School of Law. During his studies, he was an editor for the Urban Law Journal. He started Karner Law Group in 2002 after seven years at an international law firm in New York. He gives back to the community through involvement in various professional organizations such as Wealth Counsel LLC. Gabriel can practice in New York, California, and some United Federal Courts. Use our online resources to determine your next steps and schedule an initial consultation with Katzner Law Group. Learn more about how we can help with the probate process on this page.

The executor of an estate must understand their duties and obligations. To minimize the probability of disputes and allegations of misconduct, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of the probate process and to ensure that all procedures are carried out correctly. Any breach of duty puts the executor at risk of personal liability. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that individuals named as executors of an estate seek guidance from an attorney immediately during this challenging time. Legal support should be obtained as soon as it becomes evident that the estate must undergo probate.

What is probate?

Probate is a legal process that occurs after someone passes away. The executor notifies the court that someone has passed. This triggers a court-supervised process in which the executor settles the decedent’s debts and taxes and distributes the estate assets to the beneficiaries following the instructions in the will.

What is a Probate Attorney?

A San Diego probate attorney can guide you through the onerous and complex process of California probate and counsel you and your family when a loved one has recently passed away. There are many phases in the California probate process. Hiring the best San Diego probate attorney can help you 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.

What is Probate Administration?

Probate administration is the official process that happens when a person passes away. It entails collecting a person’s probated assets, paying their creditors and taxes, and ultimately distributing any assets left over to beneficiaries in accordance with their will or state law if there is no will. By the end of the probate process, all debts and taxes should have been paid, and all assets distributed to the beneficiaries. If the estate is complicated, or the instructions for distributing the assets are unclear or in dispute, the probate process can become expensive and lengthy.


Gabriel Katzner has a track record, along with a vast number of outstanding public reviews across platforms, of working hard on behalf of individuals who need assistance with comprehensive estate planning services.

Gabriel Katzner

Founding Attorney

What is Considered a Probate Asset?

Probate assets refer to every asset held in the deceased person’s individual name at the time of death.

If the person leaves behind a will, the will determines how the assets are distributed, unless there is a dispute. This also assumes that the will is valid.

These situations require the insight and counsel of an experienced probate lawyer who is highly knowledgeable and dedicated to efficiently guiding their clients through probate, since there is little room for error.

The Probate Process in California Infographic

The 12 Stages of the Probate Process in California Infographic

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The Executor’s Duties in Managing Probate

The executor is responsible for filing the will with the court and officially petitioning to open the probate process. When the petition is approved, the process officially begins.

The executor’s primary responsibility after being approved as the estate executor is to give notice to the estate administration. California state statutes specify who must receive notice and how this notice should be delivered. Any party who could potentially have an interest in the estate should be notified.

The executor must also take steps to advertise the estate so that any of the decedent’s creditors can file claims. The executor then reviews all of those claims and ensures that they are all appropriately paid out of the estate’s assets. These claims must be settled before any beneficiaries can receive distributions from the estate.

After the advertising and an appropriate notice period have passed, the executor needs to locate and collect all the decedent’s assets. Once the debts have been completely satisfied or nullified through contesting their validity and/or amount, all remaining assets will be distributed according to the decedent’s will. The executor is responsible for keeping beneficiaries informed throughout this process and has a fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interest of the estate.

Being named executor of a friend’s or loved one’s estate can feel like an honor, but it also comes with significant responsibilities that can be daunting. Managing the estate’s details can be complicated and time-consuming, especially if you lack time or organizational skills. Additionally, disputes among beneficiaries can arise, further complicating the process and delaying the distribution of assets.

How can a San Diego probate attorney help me?

While you are alive, a San Diego probate attorney can help establish your estate plan. This will make the process smoother upon your death. We can help you protect your family. If you are the surviving family and you need assistance with the estate or probate process, our San Diego probate attorney can help with the following:

  • Property appraisal
  • Securing all of the deceased’s assets
  • Preparing and filing documents
  • Manage the estate account
  • Transferring assets to the appropriate parties
  • Help to pay debts, bills, and tax issues

San Diego Probate Attorney And Trust Administration

Gabriel Katzner

In 2002, Gabriel Katzner, the founding partner of Katzner Law Group received his Juris Doctorate with honors from the Fordham University School of Law. After spending the first 7 years of his legal career
practicing at Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP, an international law firm based in New York, he went on to found his own firm.

Gabriel Katzner has a track record, along with a vast number of
outstanding public reviews across platforms, of working hard on behalf of individuals who need assistance with comprehensive
estate planning services. Finding a lawyer who is knowledgeable about revocable and irrevocable trust planning, guardianship for minor children, asset protection, trust administration and probate,
as well as Medi-Cal / Medicaid planning is extremely important.

Years of experience: More than 17 years
Location: San Diego, CA

Contact a San Diego Probate Attorney

You may also need to contact an experienced San Diego probate lawyer if you lost a loved one who died without a will. Understanding the options available to you and how the court is likely to proceed with probate administration is paramount. Many questions must be answered throughout this process, and having the support of a lawyer who has helped others in these difficult situations is strongly recommended.

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If a California resident dies without a will in place, the estate will undergo the court-supervised probate process. Instead of following instructions in a will, the court will apply state laws of intestacy to determine the appropriate beneficiaries and distribute the estate accordingly.

The steps in the California probate process include the following:

  1. Filing a petition for probate.
  2. Notifying heirs and creditors.
  3. Inventorying and appraising the estate’s assets.
  4. Paying appropriate debts and taxes.
  5. Distributing the assets to the rightful beneficiaries.

Yes, the following assets can typically bypass the California probate process:

  1. Assets held in a living trust
  2. Joint tenancy assets
  3. Retirement and other accounts with named beneficiaries
  4. Life insurance proceeds

The probate process typically takes months to years to complete. This is highly dependent on the complexity and size of the estate and whether any legal challenges may arise.

There are several ways you can avoid probate. You can protect your family and heirs before your passing and ensure they get what you intended. In California, you can do the following to avoid probate:

  • Establishing joint ownership
  • Creating a living trust in accordance with California law
  • Payable on death designations for banking accounts
  • Transfer on death Deeds for real estate
  • Transfer on death securities registration
  • Transfer on death vehicle registration

Typically, an estate will go to probate if valued at or over $184,500. However, it can also occur if the deceased did not leave a will. In some situations, even if the person did have a will, you could be subject to probate. You may be subject to probate for the following forms of property:

  • Bank accounts
  • Real estate
  • Personal property
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Life insurance proceeds
  • Intellectual property
  • Vehicles
  • Art and jewelry

The probate process can take a few months or a couple of years. On average, it can take between nine months and two years. The longer you wait to begin the process, the longer it can take. California code gives estate representatives 30 days after death to file for probate.

The probate process can vary depending on the complexity of the assets and if there is a will. Usually, an estate can stay open for nine months to a year after death. Some complications can prolong this process, such as:

  • Unclear instructions in the will
  • Beneficiary disputes
  • Unresolved debts

Probate is required primarily because the assets do not qualify for a simple transfer. It is also required when the estate is worth more than $184,500. Other situations that can require probate include:

  • The deceased owned real property
  • Some of the heirs are minors
  • When there is no will
  • When there are pending debts
  • The will is contested

Real property is considered a home or business, and it can trigger probate regardless of whether there is a designation within the will for a beneficiary. When there is no will, there is no basis to determine how the property should be distributed among the heirs. Minor heirs require a legal representative, which triggers probate proceedings.


This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. Furthermore, it has received approval from attorney Gabriel Katzner, an experienced estate planning lawyer with over 17 years of legal expertise.

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