YORBA LINDA PROBATE ATTORNEY
According to Niche, almost half of Yorba Linda residents are 45 years or older. With so many people nearing or in retirement, estate planning remains a high priority in this affluent neighborhood. One of the most common tools used in an estate plan is a will. After a person passes away, probate describes the process of proving this will in court. When there is no will, probate extends to include the process of the state determining how to distribute assets without one.
Thankfully, California has an existing process in place to determine who inherits the intestate property. Known as “intestate succession,” it attempts to cover all the various possible relationships persons might have with the deceased person and determine the assets they should receive as a result. This process can become extremely confusing for all parties involved.
The Law Office of Christopher P. Walker can advise you during this time to ensure you and your loved ones follow the right steps and everyone gets what they should. We are so committed to providing professional assistance that we begin the process with free consultations.
HOW DOES CALIFORNIA DISTRIBUTE THE ESTATE OF UNMARRIED PERSONS?
If an unmarried person dies intestate in Yorba Linda, California distributes assets using a criteria system comprised of eight levels. See this in detail below:
1.To the surviving children
2.To the parents, if there are no surviving children or other living issue
3.To the brothers and sisters, if there are no living parents
4.To the grandparents, if there are no surviving siblings
5.To the uncles and aunts, if there are no living grandparents
6.To close cousins, if there are no grandparents
7.To distant cousins or any other next of kin, if there are no close cousins
8.To the State of California if there are no distant cousins
HOW DOES CALIFORNIA DISTRIBUTE THE ESTATE OF MARRIED PERSONS?
If your loved one was married, it does complicate the process a little more. Things might become especially complicated if the person remarried after having children from a previous relationship. California’s community property laws also come into play here. After identifying community property and separate property, the court uses the following process:
1.The surviving spouse receives all assets determined to be community property.
2.If the decedent had no surviving heirs, the surviving spouse also receives all the separate property.
3.If the decedent has survivors but no children, the spouse receives one-half of the separate property, and the rest is divided among survivors, such as siblings and parents.
4.If there is one surviving child, the surviving spouse and child split the separate property in half.
5.If there is more than one surviving child, the surviving spouse receives only a third of the property, and the rest of the estate is divided among the children.
6.If the decedent has one surviving child and issue of deceased children, they receive two-thirds of the property, and the surviving spouse receives one-third.
7.If the decedent’s deceased children were survived by issue, they inherit two-thirds of the separate property, and the remaining one-third goes to the spouse.
8.If there is no surviving issue, the estate passes to the State of California.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING THE PROBATE PROCESS?
Your Yorba Linda probate attorney will walk you through the process, but it’s a good idea to know what to expect. Some probate cases feature greater complexities than others, but there are some general steps to follow.
LOCATE THE WILL
If the deceased person chose a lawyer or someone else to act as an executor, that person generally knows where the will is. In some cases, the person does not inform family members of a will and does not file one, so family members must first look for one.
AUTHENTICATE THE WILL
If there is a will, your probate attorney can file this and other important documents with the court serving Yorba Linda. The court then determines authenticity. If there are multiple wills, the most recent one generally takes precedence.
APPOINT AN EXECUTOR
If there was no executor already appointed by the decedent, the court might choose one. This person oversees the process that lies ahead. The appointed person might need to post probate bond to protect the beneficiaries before accepting the role.
The executor then becomes responsible for finding and taking possession of the existing assets. In some cases, this might involve possessing documents proving ownership. This can become complicated if some assets are in different states or are jointly owned. A lawyer can help.
DETERMINE THE DEATH OF DATE VALUES
The executor must then determine the value of assets at the time of death. Account balance statements come in handy for financial accountants. For physical property, the executor might need to schedule appraisals. A probate attorney can assist with this and other complex tasks.
When assets go through probate, creditors might stake a claim to repay debts. Creditors typically have a very limited time to do so. Note that if the executor fails to complete this step, that person could become personally liable for the unpaid debts.
PAY OUTSTANDING DEBTS
The executor might also need to pay the remaining debts from the estate. Sometimes, this requires selling non-liquid assets. Note that some debts might pass to someone else in the family if that person acted as a cosigner.
FILE TAX RETURNS
Preparing and submitting the final tax returns on behalf of the decedent is one of the most important and complex steps. If the estate owes taxes, the executor might need to sell assets to cover the costs.
Once all the technicalities are taken care of, the probate attorney can then help the executor with the distribution process. This involves petitioning the court for permission to distribute according to the will or according to California’s wishes.
HOW DO YOU CONTACT THE LAW OFFICE OF CHRISTOPHER P. WALKER?
We believe in making our services as accessible as possible to those who need it. You can visit our office in person in Anaheim at 505 S. Villa Real Drive #103, Anaheim, CA 92807. You can also reach us by phone at 714-942-0649. We look forward to serving you and your family.