Contact Us Today!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Huber Fox is our family attorney. Jonathan is honest and always has his client's best interests when making decisions.- Laurie G.
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.- K. Hernandez
Jonathan Huber and his staff demonstrated the highest standards of professionalism with attention to detail and consistently prompt turnaround.- Chris S.
On behalf of my late son and myself, I want to thank you all for your help & kindness during this terrible time.- Former Client
Jonathan Huber and his staff made it easy to get our trust set up through his office.- Sunny O.
Huber Fox, P.C. was very helpful in going through the probate court process- Former Client
I will always recommend Huber for any future family trusts and wills etc.- Amber H.
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.