Below are some potential issues that could arise during a probate administration:
- Conflicts between the personal representative and beneficiaries – If a personal representative is not represented by an experienced probate attorney they may improperly manage the estate and/or cause unnecessary delays. This can lead to frustration and conflict with the estate’s beneficiaries. A beneficiary may attempt to have the personal representative removed, thus causing more delays and strife.
- Discovering assets and debts – Sometimes, the extent of a decedent’s assets and debts are not well known by their personal representative and/or family. Discovering these assets and debts has become more challenging as documentation moves online through email and online banking.
- An insolvent estate – If a decedent’s estate has more debt than assets it is considered insolvent. The personal representative is not personally responsible for paying these debts, but they are responsible for ensuring debts are properly paid, to the extent possible, from estate assets.
What Are Some Possible Resolutions To Issues That Arise During Probate?
- Conflict between the personal representative and beneficiaries – An experienced probate attorney can help a personal representative anticipate, avoid and/or minimize potential conflict with beneficiaries. The attorney can help ensure the administration is running smoothly and properly to begin with. The attorney can communicate directly with the beneficiaries to diffuse tension or disagreements. Lastly, the attorney can ask the court to weigh in if necessary.
- Discovering assets and debts – To discover all assets and debts the personal representative must use all investigative tools at their disposal. This includes reviewing past tax return or IRS transcripts, reading mail, and gaining access to online accounts. Once a personal representative has Letters Testamentary and Letters of Administration they have the authority to access this information.
- An insolvent estate – When an estate is insolvent, rules of the probate code direct the personal representative on how and when to pay creditors. An experienced probate attorney will help the personal representative determine which debts have priority and how and when to pay each debt. The attorney will ensure the personal representative follows all rules and doesn’t become personally liable for the debts if mismanaged.
Can Someone Realistically Handle Probate Administration Without An Attorney In California?
Legally, a personal representative may handle a probate administration without an attorney. But, an unrepresented personal representative may face frustrating delays, a longer administration process and impatient beneficiaries. The court rejects forms which are improper or incomplete and continues hearing dates for several weeks if not all necessary forms are on file. Many documents must be filed throughout the probate process, and the lesser-known forms are often missed if a person is not familiar with the process. Further, each county operates under its own local rules, which are not always easily discoverable by a personal representative unfamiliar with the courts. Save yourself the time, frustration and conflict with beneficiaries and hire an experienced probate attorney.
What Should I Look For When Hiring A Good Probate Attorney?
When hiring a good probate attorney you’ll want to look for someone with experience. The attorney’s familiarity with California’s probate rules, court rules, and the local rules within each county ensures she’ll competently and knowledgeably guide you through the process. You also want to look for an attorney who maintains open communication with you, as the administrator, and with your beneficiaries, so the process is transparent and conflicts are minimized. Lastly, you should look for a compassionate attorney. Even though the probate process consists primarily of legal and technical issues, the fact that you’ve lost a loved one should not be forgotten.
How Does Proper Estate Planning And A Good Estate Planning Attorney Set You Up For Success If You Have To Go Through Probate?
If you work with an experienced estate planning attorney and they’ve established and maintained a proper estate plan for you, then you likely will not have to go through probate. If, however, not all of a decedent’s assets have been transferred to their trust, then a proper estate plan will allow you to use an 850 Petition to transfer assets rather than requiring a timely and costly probate administration.
What Is An Ancillary Probate Administration?
An ancillary probate administration is a secondary probate that is opened in a state where a decedent owned assets, but did not reside. If your loved one owned assets in California, but lived outside the state, then you may need to initiate an ancillary probate in California. If your loved one resided in California, but owned assets in another state, then you may need to initiate an ancillary probate in that state. Whatever your fact pattern, you need not wait until the primary administration is completed before you can initiate an ancillary probate. Speak to an experienced probate attorney now to avoid unnecessary delays.
Additional Information On Probate Process In California
California’s probate process is known for being time consuming and costly. However, an experienced probate attorney can help minimize frustrations by guiding a personal representative and the estate’s beneficiaries through the process.
For more information on Potential Issues During Probate Administration, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (415) 484-0078 today.