When someone passes away, the property which makes up that person’s estate will be distributed to the heirs and beneficiaries. In many cases, in order for the property to be properly distributed, the estate needs to go through the probate process. Probate requires many steps, including proving the existence of the will, if there is one; identifying the property and creating an inventory of that property; paying debts, funeral expenses, and taxes; and then distributing the remaining property to the proper heirs and beneficiaries. Here are few valuable probate resources for Westchester residents.
Westchester probate resources
Westchester is a neighborhood located in the Westside Region of Los Angeles. Westchester is home to Los Angeles International Airport and Loyola Marymount University. Since Westchester is located in Los Angeles County it is the Los Angeles County Probate Court that handles probate matters for Westchester residents.
Probate Court Resources
Other Services / Information
In addition to attorney’s fees, there could be other necessary fees imposed for probate services. Those other fees likely include court fees, fees for the services of a personal representative, accounting fees, appraisal fees and business valuation fees. Court fees and personal representative fees are set by state statute.
There can be a variety of fees such as postage for mailing notices and other documents depending on the type of property in the estate, the cost of insuring and storing personal property, shipping or moving personal property. These fees are usually deducted from the probate estate.
Attorney fees for probate work
The state of California imposes set fees for probate work established by statute, based on the gross value of the estate. The attorney’s fee schedule is as follows:
- 4% of the first $100,000 of the probate estate’s gross value
- 3% of the next $100,000
- 2% of the next $800,000
- 1% of the next $9 million
- 5% of the next $15 million
Probate clinics for conservatorship and guardianship
The Stanley Mosk Courthouse is located at 111 North Hill Street in Los Angeles. The probate court provides a conservatorship clinic on the Fourth Floor in room 426 on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. You can be seen at the clinic on a first come, first served basis. The guardianship clinic is held on the Second Floor in Room 230 on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, also on a first come, first serve basis.
Wills, Estates & Trusts
The probate court also provides self-help for creating Wills, Estates & Trusts. Some people find do-it-yourself legal forms online and believe they are an easy and inexpensive way to create estate planning documents, including the last will and testament. These forms allow consumers to create their estate plans at home on their own computers, without the need for an attorney. However, as our Westchester probate attorneys know, these types of estate planning instruments often lead to probate litigation. So, you may want to rethink that choice.
DIY estate planning documents may not be legally valid
Despite your best efforts, an online will or trust may not be legally valid when it comes time to enforce its provisions. Although using these DIY forms, instead of consulting a licensed estate planning attorney, may save you time and money now, the problems that will likely arise will cause issues for your family in the end. In most cases, the defects in the online forms you create may not be discovered until it’s too late to cure them.
Problems with a DIY will could lead to probate litigation
Our Westchester probate attorneys recognize the likelihood of DIY estate planning documents ending up the subject of probate litigation. The reality is the families of the consumers that use them find out the consequences the hard way.
There are many misconceptions regarding the California probate process that cause clients to start their estate planning with the wrong goals. The focus of your estate plan should be to preserve your estate for your family so you can protect their future. The California probate process may be different from that in other states, so you should understand the process in the state where you live.
If you have questions regarding probate, estate planning, trust contests, or any other trust administration issues, please contact the Schomer Law Group either online or by calling us in Los Angeles at (310) 337-7696, and in Orange County at (562) 346-3209.
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