Probate and Estate Administration

YLF is a full-service probate law firm. We are headquartered in Los Angeles, but we handle probate and estate administrations of all sizes throughout all of California. If you need a probate attorney, don’t delay to contact us: you cannot transfer assets or take any actions on behalf of the estate without the Court’s authority.

After a loved one dies (this person is called the “decedent”), there is a process by which his or her property is transferred to the persons entitled to the property. Probate is the court proceeding used to supervise the transfer of the decedent’s assets to the proper heirs and beneficiaries.  It is also the process used to determine who is entitled to receive the decedent’s property either under a will or according to the laws of intestate succession (if the decedent died without a will). The most common way to avoid probate is by forming a living trust and transferring all owned assets to the trust during one’s lifetime. Otherwise, many assets owned at the time of death will likely go through the probate process.

If the decedent died with or without a will, and the fair market value of the assets that must go through probate are worth more than $150,000.00 at the time of death, your attorney must start a formal probate proceeding to transfer the assets to the beneficiaries (if there is a will) or heirs (if there is not a will). If there is no will, the heirs will be determined under California’s laws of intestate succession–the priority order is detailed by statute (the order is generally what you think it would be: spouse, children, parents and so on).

If the value of the estate is less than $150,000.00, a summary proceeding may be available. These summary proceedings are shorter, cheaper, and involve less effort than formal probate proceedings. Certain assets don’t count toward the $150,000.00 limit, so consult an attorney to determine how to best transfer the assets.

The purpose of a probate proceeding is to legally transfer title and ownership of the decedent’s assets to the right people under court supervision. For example, if the decedent owned a home in his or her name, the person who is now entitled to the house would need legal documentation to prove ownership in the event that they wanted to sell, refinance or remodel the property. Without the court’s supervision and authority, no person could legally sign a deed that would transfer the property to the new owners, sign financial documents to get a better mortgage rate or a contract for remodeling.   Any bank accounts, stocks, bonds, and other assets that the decedent owned are also unavailable to the beneficiaries and heirs without the court’s authority.

Probate is a highly structured and complicated proceeding. It’s important to have an attorney because any mistake can cause months or even years of delay in transferring assets. Depending on the assets, this delay can translate to a loss of anywhere from thousands to millions of dollars in certain situations (potential lease or sale, refinancing, or change in market conditions). Call us now to start your probate process immediately.

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