Whenever a person dies and leaves behind property and assets, the probate process is the legal process of distributing ownership over these assets to the deceased’s beneficiaries. Probate is a commonly misunderstood process, and it’s important to know what to expect if you recently lost a loved one and have no idea what type of legal proceedings you and your family now face.

Probate is an essential process that must take place after a person has died, leaving behind assets and property. Probate ensures the legal transfer of ownership of these assets and settles any debts carried by the decedent.

Is Probate Good or Bad?

Probate can be stressful and difficult, or it can be straightforward and streamlined. When you and your family face probate proceedings, it is not a question of good versus bad but rather a question of complexity. If your loved one died without having any type of estate plan in place, then the probate process is likely to be very difficult and stressful for the family as cold legal statutes dictate who gets what from the deceased’s estate.

If you and your family have a will, trust, or other estate plan to which you may refer, then the probate process could be as simple as ensuring the instructions set forth by the estate plan are faithfully executed. Ultimately, probate may not be the most pleasant experience, but it is necessary to obtain legal closure for a loved one’s death.

What Happens If You Don’t Go Through Probate?

It is not possible to “skip” the probate process. Having an applicable and enforceable estate plan can significantly streamline probate, but the existence of an estate plan does not cancel the need to complete probate. This legal process does much more than just disburse the contents of the deceased’s estate; it also ensures the legal transfer of the deceased’s property and assets. Without completing these transfers, the deceased’s property and assets remain in their name, potentially leading to ongoing expenses for which the deceased’s estate is liable. Additionally, failing to execute one’s duties as an executor or personal representative can lead to serious legal consequences in some cases.

Why Is Probate Expensive?

Probate is also notorious for being an expensive process. This is typically due to legal fees, as more complex probate proceedings will take much longer to conclude, thus costing much more in legal fees in the long run. While an experienced Orange County probate lawyer can potentially expedite probate proceedings, the process can take months or even years in some cases.

What Can a Probate Attorney Do for Me?

Hiring an Orange County probate lawyer to assist you can provide several significant benefits. First, you will have an experienced legal advocate who you may consult at any time if you do not understand complicated legal statutes or specific elements of your case. Your attorney can also track all transactions involving the estate. By doing this, the estate’s beneficiaries can have peace of mind knowing all debts are settled properly and all assets are distributed according to the deceased’s wishes.

Another important service pertaining to accuracy is arranging appraisals for the estate. It is usually necessary for a probate lawyer to arrange professional property appraisals to ensure that all assets included in the probate process are accurately valued. Probate lawyers will also assist in the payment of debts held by the estate to streamline the disbursement of remaining estate contents.

Probate attorneys will also review all relevant estate planning materials in a case and help a family determine their enforceability. This review process also helps reduce the possibility of disputes arising during probate. Some estate plans that have been left unattended for several years prior to the deceased’s death may not accurately reflect their holdings at the time of death, and a probate attorney can help their client discern which elements of an estate plan may be under scrutiny as probate unfolds.

Find Your Probate Attorney Today

When you and your family are uncertain about what to expect from the legal proceedings following a loved one’s death, call our firm. It’s vital to seek legal guidance from a reliable Orange County probate lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney can review all documents and materials relevant to the case to help you prepare for the proceedings ahead.

If you have lost a loved one and need legal representation for the probate process, the Law Office of Christopher P. Walker is here to help. Our team can also assist in estate planning so you can limit uncertainty for your loved ones in the future. Contact us today to learn more about how our firm can assist you with the California probate process.