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Sacramento Probate & Trust Administration Lawyer

Ensuring the smooth and accurate execution of a person's final wishes is an important part of estate planning. Wills and trusts are both essential components of any estate plan. A part of those plans involves selecting trusted individuals to carry out the instructions detailed in these documents. 

A skilled Sacramento probate and trust administration lawyer can help ensure that all assets are distributed as intended, allowing families to focus on honoring the memories of their loved ones.

Huber Fox serves clients throughout the Greater Sacramento Area. Call at (916) 237-8781 or reach out here online today to set up a consultation with a qualified probate attorney in Sacramento. 

The Probate Process in California

Probate involves appointing a personal representative (the executor) to collect and protect assets, handle payments to creditors, and account for all transactions. Depending on the size of the estate, this can involve a lot of paperwork and legal mechanics. Our Sacramento probate and trust administration attorneys can take the lead on everything from the filing of paperwork to handling any complicated issues that arise along the way. 

Duties of an Executor in Probate

Executors have the important responsibility of managing an estate's assets in a reasonable manner, while properly accounting for and maintaining all records of their actions. Creditors need to be identified and notified in a timely fashion. Payment of debts must take place before an estate can be distributed, and heirs need to be notified of any debts that may have reduced the inheritance they expected to receive. 

All transactions entered on behalf of the estate must be documented thoroughly, and an executor can be subject to legal action by heirs if it is believed the estate has been mishandled. 

The Length of the Probate Process in California

The length of time it takes to complete a probate case can be as short as eight months or as long as several years, depending on the complexity of the estate. For a typical estate, 12 months is the most likely timeframe. 

Reach out to Huber Fox today by either calling (916) 237-8781 or through filling out our online contact form today. 

Small Estates in Probate Court

California has a unique and faster process for estates that California defines as “small.” California’s definition of a small estate changes with inflation and is currently $184,500 for deaths that occur after April 1, 2022. 

A Petition to Determine Succession is one way to handle this process. Another is an Affidavit under Probate Code § 13000, which may be used to obtain cash, tangible personal property, and outstanding debts. Either can provide for a simpler and more expeditious resolution than a full-blown probate proceeding. 

Care should be taken when calculating the gross value of the estate for this purpose, as certain properties can be excluded from the calculation in accordance with Probate Code § 13050. 

Beneficiaries or heirs who receive property through such an affidavit should also be aware that creditors can pursue them for any monies owed by the deceased. 

Marital Property in Probate

A Spousal Property Petition, filed under Probate Code section 13500, enables the surviving spouse to receive all property they would have been entitled to without having to incur the costs and hassle of a full-blown probate process. This includes property designated to the spouse in the decedent's will, and any community property owned by both parties.

Debts of the Deceased in Probate

Beneficiaries or heirs of a decedent's estate who acquire property through one of the summary proceedings discussed here may be subject to creditor pursuit for up to the full value of the property received.

Are Any Assets Exempt From Probate in California?

Several types of assets can be exempt from the probate process. These include assets that have named beneficiaries, such as life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and payable-on-death (POD) or transfer-on-death (TOD) accounts. When the account holder or policyholder passes away, these assets pass directly to the named beneficiaries without going through probate.

Additionally, jointly owned assets, like real estate or bank accounts held as joint tenants with rights of survivorship, typically transfer to the surviving owner outside of probate.

Small estates with a total value under a certain threshold may qualify for simplified probate procedures or may be exempt from probate altogether. The threshold for a small estate can change, so it's essential to check the current limits.

Assets held in a living trust are another common exemption from probate. These assets are transferred according to the terms of the trust, allowing for a smoother and faster distribution process.

Do I Need a Probate Attorney?

Navigating the probate process can be complex and overwhelming for those unfamiliar with it. Below are several reasons why individuals may need to hire a probate lawyer:

  • Legal Expertise: Probate law is intricate and varies by state. A probate attorney provides the necessary expertise to ensure all legal requirements are met efficiently and accurately.
  • Dispute Resolution: Conflicts often arise among beneficiaries during the probate process. A probate lawyer can help mediate disputes and provide solutions in line with the decedent's wishes and state laws.
  • Document Preparation and Filing: The probate process involves numerous legal documents that must be prepared correctly and filed within specific deadlines. A probate attorney ensures that all paperwork is handled properly to avoid delays.
  • Asset Distribution: A probate lawyer assists in the accurate identification, valuation, and distribution of the estate's assets according to the will or state law if there is no will.
  • Debt Settlement: Part of the probate process involves paying the deceased's outstanding debts. A probate attorney can help negotiate with creditors to settle debts, ensuring the estate is distributed without legal complications.
  • Tax Guidance: Estates are subject to various taxes, including estate taxes, inheritance taxes, and income taxes on the deceased's final year. A probate lawyer can provide advice on tax implications and help minimize the estate's tax liability.
  • Representation in Court: If the probate process requires court appearances, having a probate attorney ensures that the estate is represented professionally and that the executor's actions are in legal compliance.
  • Saves Time and Reduces Stress: The probate process can be time-consuming. Hiring a probate attorney allows beneficiaries to delegate these responsibilities, reducing stress and freeing up time to focus on personal matters and grieving.

While a lawyer may not be legally required for probate in every case, having a skilled probate attorney can streamline the process, reduce the potential for errors, and provide peace of mind during a difficult time.

Finally, certain personal property and vehicles may qualify for a simplified transfer procedure without full probate if they meet specific criteria.

Have more questions about probate? Get in touch with a skilled probate attorney in Sacramento today.

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What Our Clients Say

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    "Jonathan is honest and always has his client's best interests when making decisions"

    Huber Fox is our family attorney. Jonathan is honest and always has his client's best interests when making decisions.

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    Jonathan Huber provided expert legal advice, in a timely fashion and guided us through the entire process with genuine concern and attention to detail. We’d highly recommend his services.

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    Jonathan Huber and his staff demonstrated the highest standards of professionalism with attention to detail and consistently prompt turnaround.

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    On behalf of my late son and myself, I want to thank you all for your help & kindness during this terrible time.

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    Jonathan Huber and his staff made it easy to get our trust set up through his office.

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    Huber Fox, P.C. was very helpful in going through the probate court process

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    I will always recommend Huber for any future family trusts and wills etc.

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    Jonathan Huber and Benjamin Fox spent many exhausting hours on my case. They were thorough, meticulous, honest, and reassuring, and the result was… my case won! These men are like family to me now, I can call anytime!

    - Former Client

Administrators & Executors You Can Count On

The Sacramento probate and trust administration attorneys at Huber Fox have deep experience helping clients find the path that will be best for them. 

Call at (916) 237-8781 or contact us online and set up a consultation with a seasoned probate attorney in Sacramento at Huber Fox.

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