Davis Probate Attorneys Serving Northern California
- Pakpour Banks LLP is based in Davis, CA, and is proudly serving Davis, Woodland, Sacramento, West Sacramento, Vacaville, Dixon, Fairfield, Roseville, Elk Grove, and surrounding areas.
- Our team has been successfully representing cases in Yolo County, Sacramento County, Solano County, Placer County, Colusa County, El Dorado County, and Yuba County.
After losing a loved one, it isn’t easy to think about the legal process ahead. If the estate has to go through probate, there is paperwork to file, deadlines to meet, and court appearances to attend. There are serious responsibilities when it comes to administering an estate, and making errors can cost significant time and money.
At Pakpour Banks LLP, we are a client-focused law firm that takes on a range of probate cases. We are well-versed in California probate law and will guide you through the entire probate proceeding. Contact us today and let us give you peace of mind knowing our California probate attorneys are handling the process for you.
What Is Probate?
Probate is the legal process of settling the affairs of someone who dies (the decedent). A probate court oversees the administration of one’s estate, and California’s Probate Code lays out the rules.
Since all estates are different, no two probate proceedings look alike. However, the general probate process includes the following:
- Filing a petition for probate;
- Attending a probate court hearing;
- Proving the validity of a will, if one exists;
- Appointing an executor or executrix for the estate;
- Collecting and valuing the decedent’s assets;
- Notifying creditors, heirs, and beneficiaries;
- Satisfying debts; and
- Distributing remaining property to rightful heirs and beneficiaries.
Completing all of these tasks may seem daunting, but that is where the experienced Davis probate lawyers at Pakpour Banks LLP come in. Let our team handle probate so you can take the time to heal.
Is Probate Necessary?
Not every estate needs to go through probate. Probate is only necessary if the decedent dies owning assets titled solely in his or her name. On the other hand, if the decedent left assets that are jointly owned or have a beneficiary designation, there is no need for probate. These types of assets (known as non-probate assets) automatically transfer at death to either the joint owner or beneficiary. Examples of non-probate assets include life insurance policies, property titled as joint tenants with rights of survivorship, “payable on death” (POD) accounts, and assets held in a trust.
California probate law also provides alternatives to full probate proceedings. For example, if the value of the decedent’s estate is less than $166,250, you can file a Small Estate Affidavit. Heirs can also file a Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property and receive distributions without probate if certain criteria are met. Lastly, a surviving spouse may avoid probate by filing a Spousal Property Petition.
Our probate lawyers can explain your options and help you determine if probate is necessary in your case.
What Happens in Probate Court?
A probate court supervises the division of the estate, ensuring that the decedent’s wishes are carried out. Multiple hearings may take place depending on the complexity of the estate. At a probate court hearing, the judge may do any of the following:
- Ensure the validity of a will;
- Identify heirs, beneficiaries, and creditors;
- Review the terms of the decedent’s will;
- Appoint an executor;
- Approve the value of estate assets; and
- Issue rulings on claims made by heirs or creditors of the estate.
If the decedent left a will or trust, the court would distribute assets to heirs and beneficiaries per the terms of the document. When a decedent dies without a will or trust, the probate court allocates and distributes assets according to California intestate succession law. Under these laws, family members who survive the decedent will inherit the estate in a certain order. Spouses inherit first, then children, then the decedent’s parents, and so on until the estate has been completely distributed.
How Long Does Probate Take?
The length of the probate process varies depending on the estate’s complexity and how quickly the court schedules a hearing. From start to finish, the entire probate process can take anywhere from a few months to several years. Estates with large tax implications or hard-to-value assets, like a business, will take longer to administer than those with only a checking account. Whether or not the decedent left a will can prolong the probate process. There’s also a four-month minimum for creditors to file claims for unpaid debts against the estate.
How to Avoid Probate?
Probate can be time-consuming, expensive, and emotionally taxing. The only way to avoid the probate process completely is to remove assets from the decedent’s estate. This must be done ahead of time by the decedent through proper estate planning.
As previously mentioned, even if the estate is subject to probate, there are simplified versions you can use, including the Small Estate Affidavit, Petition for Succession to Real Property, and Spousal Property Petition.
How Much Does Probate Cost?
The cost of probate depends on how difficult it is to administer the estate. Probate consists of court filing fees, notification publication fees, executor compensation, and fees for professional services (e.g., lawyers, accountants, appraisers, etc.). The following factors can impact the cost to probate an estate:
- The estate’s value;
- Types of assets in the estate;
- The decedent’s estate planning documents;
- If the estate is involved in litigation;
- Type of probate proceeding; and
- Whether you hire a lawyer.
The decedent’s estate pays all probate fees.
What Do Probate Attorneys Do?
Whether you are an estate executor, trustee, heir, or beneficiary, having an experienced probate attorney on your side is invaluable. A California probate attorney can assist you with the following:
- Determine if you need to probate the estate;
- Complete and file petitions;
- Inventory and value assets;
- Notify interested parties;
- File final income and estate tax returns;
- Communicate with the probate court; and
- Prepare you for court hearings.
A California probate lawyer at Pakpour Banks LLP is here to help with all of your probate needs.
Contact the Davis Probate Lawyers at Pakpour Banks LLP
Losing someone you love is challenging enough, so let the Davis probate attorneys at Pakpour Banks LLP handle the legal side. As a former probate clerk and research attorney with the Yolo Superior Court, founding attorney Mr. Banks brings unparalleled experience to his clients.
Aside from probate matters, our experienced legal team also handles conservatorship cases. We are here to answer your questions, give you options, and provide the legal guidance you need. Contact our office today.