You may not have thought about it, but many of us will take part in the probate process at some point. Each state has established its own laws regarding the process of probating an estate, which includes paying creditors and distributing property among heirs. The process can be complex and somewhat technical. There is a lot of paperwork to be completed and filed with the court within its strict deadlines. Indeed, the legal requirements must be followed to the letter. We are often asked, “does your firm handle probate?” The Schomer Law Group is experienced in handling probate matters in Los Angeles, and can help guide you through the process.
How does a law firm handle probate?
The purpose of the probate process is to transfer your estate to your heirs in an organized, supervised way. It is essentially the administration of your estate through the probate court, and it is required regardless of whether you have a will when you die. Probate is one of the primary legal matters handled by most estate planning attorneys.
If you have a valid will, then your will determines exactly how the property in your estate will be transferred during the probate process. If there is no will, or if your will addresses only a portion of your estate, then the distribution of your assets will be determined by the laws of your state. These laws, known as laws of “intestate succession,” set out specifically who inherits your property depending on which of your relatives have survived you.
Is every estate required to go through probate?
No. There are estate planning methods that can help you avoid the probate process, while still ensuring that your estate will pass to your heirs as you wish. Some examples of estate planning tools that can be useful in avoiding probate or joint ownership, living trusts, gifts and pay-on-death accounts. These tools allow you to transfer your property at death without court involvement. But, even if you can’t avoid probate altogether, let our firm handle probate matters for you.
Is probate expensive?
The actual cost of probate depends on many factors, like the complexity of the estate and the amount of assets. Also, the fees that are charged by each estate planning law firm are different. Some attorneys charge a flat rate. Some bill on an hourly basis and have minimum charges for certain services. However, an attorney’s fee for estate planning services must be fair and reasonable.
Along with attorney’s fees, there are other fees or expenses that are typically seen in the probate process, such as court fees and personal representative fees, which are usually set by state statute. There can be other miscellaneous fees, depending on the nature of the estate, including postage costs, the cost of insuring and storing personal property; shipping personal property; and the cost of moving personal property.
Just remember that avoiding probate does not necessarily avoid the requirement of paying some type of legal fees. Using living wills or joint ownership in property will still bring with it tax issues that must be dealt with and usually require the services of an attorney.
If you have questions regarding probate, or any other estate planning needs, please contact the Schomer Law Group either online or by calling us at (310) 337-7696.