Addressing your loved one’s assets is the last thing on your mind when you have just lost a family member.  If the deceased wrote a will, or if there is no will and no trust, the decedent’s assets may have to be administered through probate. 

While probate laws are comparatively less complicated than other US laws, it’s difficult to handle them alone. It’s best to seek professional help from an experienced probate attorney. Below we are going to discuss the benefits of hiring a probate lawyer.

1) Get Professional Advice

Most probate administrators or executors do not have access to legal advice without hiring a probate attorney. While hiring an attorney for probate is not mandatory it is advisable.  However, if a probate bond is required, the bonding company may require that you hire an attorney.   You will not have to figure out any legal or procedural legal issue on your own, and you can have peace of mind knowing that you have an attorney to assist you throughout the process. Your probate attorney is there to offer legal advice, making the whole probate process easier, from the filing of the initial probate petition through the administration and distribution stages of the probate process.

2)   Compliance With Your Fiduciary Duties and Avoiding Conflicts

An executor or administrator of a probate estate has responsibilities other than filing probate petitions.  You will have to gather documents to pay bills and to file an inventory and appraisal with the court.  You will also have to file a report with the court of the acts taken as administrator as well as an accounting including all receipts of assets received and disbursements for expenses made while acting as the administrator of the estate.   If this is done incorrectly, a beneficiary or creditor may object to your report and accounting.

In addition, family conflicts due to inheritance are common.  Any miscommunication or inappropriate handling of the estate can cause tension between family members and liability upon the administrator.  An experienced probate attorney will offer legal guidance and explain your duties and assist you to meet your obligations to the court,  to the beneficiaries, and to the creditors of the estate. 

3) Prevent Legal Complications

Probation can be an easy process, but legal complications do arise.  This can happen when a person who is not named in the will claims to be entitled to an estate distribution or claim an interest in the deceased’s assets or when a creditor’s claim is filed with the probate court stating that the decedent owed money. If a person dies without settling their debts, the executor is responsible for addressing creditors’ and creditors’ claims and paying off the decedent’s debts. Funeral expenses paid for by the executor or administrator of the estate may require a creditor’s claim.  Sometimes, a lawsuit will be filed against the decedent or the decedent’s estate in the superior court.   A probate attorney doesn’t only handle estate distribution, but they provide advice for legal matters which may arise, including debt settlement.

4) Attention to Detail and Meeting Deadlines

The California Probate Code is filled with a myriad of deadlines.  Notices have to be given and mandatory filing deadlines have to be met.   Your petition for a probate hearing will be delayed if the probate petition does not meet the legal requisites and the proper steps are not followed.  Incorrect information, failing to provide proper notice to heirs and interested persons, and missing other procedural details are often the cause of these delays.  A probate lawyer ensures that your probate proceedings are administered in a timely manner and that proper notice is given. They will know how to address any problem which may arise in the probate administration process. 

5) Network of Professionals

You might wonder what to expect from a probate attorney when estate tax returns must be filed, or when estate property has to be sold.  A probate lawyer works with tax accountants, financial advisors, realtors, and other professionals who may be involved in the administration of the probate estate.  An experienced probate attorney can assist these professionals. 

So, why wait? Hire a qualified and experienced probate attorney in Orange County like Gregory Cabo to assist you during this difficult time.

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