Serving California Families Since 1977
If you are the executor or personal representative of an estate who is currently facing a probate matter, minimize your stress and anxiety by trusting a seasoned probate attorney from Thompson Von Tungeln. Though the process can be expensive, time consuming, and cumbersome, we work to handle your matter efficiently, providing a comprehensive solution that addresses the unique issues related to your specific estate.
Clients who trust Thompson Von Tungeln always benefit from:
- Free initial consultations for your probate matter
- Certified Specialist in Probate, Estate Planning, and Trust Law by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization
- Thousands of cases handled since 1977
- AV® Rating by Martindale-Hubbell
Certified Specialist in Probate, Estate Planning, & Trust Law in California
Our managing partner and lead attorney is proud to be part of the approximately 2,000 licensed attorneys in California who have been certified as Probate, Estate Planning, and Trust Law Specialists. This means that we make up the top 0.3% of lawyers in California who have demonstrated a higher standard of client service and a tested knowledge of the law.
In-Depth Experience for Complex Problems
Because our California probate lawyers have handled thousands of cases over our years in practice, we know how to assist executors and personal representatives through a range of probate-related matters.
- Proving authenticity of estate documents
- Settling disputes
- Drafting an inventory of the estate's assets
- Paying debts and financial obligations
- Finding and distributing assets to heirs
- Drafting and filing accountings
The Probate Process
The process of collecting the deceased's property and distributing it in accordance with the terms of his or her will is called probate. The probate process is regulated by state law or the Uniform Probate Code (UPC) and is supervised by a local probate court. Especially in regards to small estates, the probate process is a lot more streamlined if your state has adopted the UPC. California has not adopted the UPC and instead follows the California Probate Code.
In charge of guiding the will through the probate process is the person (or institution) that is the executor of the will. This means that it is the executor of the will that is ultimately in charge of distributing the property of the will to heirs and beneficiaries. If there is no will in place, or if the person named to serve as the executor is not available, a family member usually asks the court to be appointed as the “administrator” of the estate. It's basically the same job.
In general, an executor or administrator must do the following:
- Request that the court officially recognizes him or her as the executor of the will.
- In the county the deceased used to be living, the executor must file a request for probate, along with a death certificate and the original will.
- Obtain court's permission to distribute property.
- During the probate process, the executor's job is to keep all assets safe.
- If required, post a bond that protects the estate from any losses the executor may have caused the estate through mismanagement of the probate process.
- The will, if there is one, must be shown to be valid. Proof of the will's validity can be done by having the witnesses sign a sworn statement that gets submitted to the court.
- Get a taxpayer ID number for the estate from the IRS, also called an “employer identification number” or EIN.
- Open an estate bank account.
- The executor will need to compile and file an inventory and appraisal of estate assets (all probate property) with the court.
- If required the executor will file federal and state tax returns for the estate.
- Mail notice of the final hearing date to heirs and beneficiaries.
- Executor asks the court to close the estate when all bills and taxes have been paid. This is when the executor can distribute all of the estate assets to the people who inherit them.
- And finally, file receipts with the court and obtain a release of executor duties from the court.
There are many components involved during the probate process. Since the probate process takes up to two years (or even longer if the estate is large or complicated) it is understandable that most executors feel overwhelmed, are not able to devote the time needed and do not have the expertise to comply with the many regulations and deadlines during the entire process. As a consequence of this, often the most essential part of being the executor of a will is finding a trusted legal adviser to oversee the probate process. If you are in need of legal guidance through the probate process, do not hesitate to reach out to Thompson Von Tungeln for a consultation with our experienced probate lawyer.
How Long Does Probate Take In California?
In the state of California, probate of an estate can take as little as nine months but usually takes much longer.
The time period is based on the complexities of the certain case. Usually, it will take a year to a year and a half or more. If the owner of the estate did not have a will when they passed, the estate must undergo the probate process. If their assets do not exceed $166,000, does not include real property worth more than $61,500 and there is a legal will, the probate process may be averted.
If you are confused trying to figure out if your estate will have to endure probate or not, give us a call! The attorneys at Thompson Von Tungeln have experience dealing with a variety of estate's probates.
Call us today for a review of your case and to schedule a consultation!
Documents To Bring To a Probate Lawyer
Is your loved one's property about to enter into the probate process in California? You will need a probate attorney to help guide you through the process and represent your interests.
You will need to provide the following documents when meeting with your attorney:
Most Recent Bank Statement
Relative's Contact Information
Documents of Assets
The probate process can be confusing, the probate attorneys at Thompson Von Tungeln are here to help guide you through all of the steps. We have experience with a variety of probate needs. Give us a call today to schedule a consultation!
Trust Thompson Von Tungeln with Your Probate. Call today for a FREE Consultation
Our probate lawyers proudly serve California with the comprehensive legal solutions our clients need during stressful or uncertain times. Our compassionate guidance looks at the financial circumstances of the estate, the heirs, and the needs of the personal representative.