Probate attorney in Ontario

Hedtke Law Offices takes the time to educate our clients on the advantages and options available with Probate, Probate Avoidance, Estate & Probate Administration, and the Estate Planning process.

What is Probate?

Probate is a legal process that occurs after someone dies. It includes validating a will in court, identifying / inventorying / appraising the deceased person’s property, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining property as the will or law directs.

Probate Avoidance

Probate is the court process by which a person’s last will and testament is administered, creditors are paid, and assets are finally distributed to the decedent’s named beneficiaries. If the decedent died without a will (“intestate”), statutes provide an order of preference for relatives of the decedent who will be considered the decedent’s beneficiaries. Most clients choose to avoid probate for the following reasons:

Expense Probates are expensive. Because the statutes set forth a structured sequence of events that must be completed before the estate can be settled, lawyers have little discretion as to how the proceeding should be conducted. Even the simplest probate proceedings can cost as much as $5,000. Complicated estates can cost in excess of $100,000. As a guideline, estates facing probate should assume 3% to 5% of the estate will be paid to attorneys in legal fees. This cost should be compared to the relatively small costs associated with establishing a revocable living trust.

Time Probates take a substantial amount of time to complete. In a best case scenario probate could take six months to complete. On average, we find the process usually takes between 9 and 12 months. Generally, access to assets during the pendency of a probate is substantially restricted, and all distributions require court approval. Conversely, successor trustees in a revocable trust have access to assets immediately upon the death of the decedent and can manage the assets without the necessity of court supervision.

Private Matter Most people do not realize that a probate proceeding is no different than any other civil proceeding in a court of law. At any time, anyone can request the court clerk to retrieve the probate file and inspect its contents. Documents included in the file are the will, a petition for probate listing all of the decedent’s heirs to the second degree, a complete inventory of all of the decedent’s assets, and documents bringing to the court’s attention any other matters that require court attention. Generally, clients prefer to use revocable living trusts to keep their affairs private.

Notorious for being lengthy and complex, the probate process divides or distributes your loved one’s property pursuant to their will or by the laws of intestacy in California. Let Hedtke Law Group take the burden off you and your family during this difficult time by assisting you with all of your probate needs. Our Inland Empire probate lawyers will do everything possible to help preserve your loved one’s estate.

The Four-Step Probate Process

#1: Filing the Petition and Giving Notice to Beneficiaries

To begin the probate process, a person must file a petition with the probate court. The person must choose between admitting the will to probate and appointing an executor, or appointing the administrator of the estate if no will exists. In addition, it is required that the notice of the hearing is given to the beneficiaries and heirs of the decedent. If an heir or beneficiary does not agree with the petition, they can object in court.

#2: Adhering to Appointment by the Court

A personal representative must provide written notice to any creditors of the estate. If a creditor wishes to make a claim on any of the estate’s assets, they must do so in a specified window of time. Additionally, complete inventory should be taken on any real property, bonds, stocks, business interests, and other assets. In some cases, an independent appraiser can be hired in order to appraise any non-cash assets.

#3: Understanding What the Estate Must Pay

During this step, a personal representative must decide which of the creditor’s claims are legitimate. From there, the personal representative must pay those claims and any other final bills of the estate. In some cases, a personal representative is allowed to sell the estate’s assets in order to meet the obligations of the decedent. Once this step has been completed, they can begin transferring assets to beneficiaries.

#4: Transferring Assets to Beneficiaries Listed in the Will

A personal representative will petition for the transfer of remaining assets to the beneficiaries listed in the will. If the will states that a trust must be created for the benefit of a spouse, incapacitated family member, or minor, the money is moved to the trustee. When the petition is granted, a personal representative can determine deeds for transfer stock, property, and may choose to transfer property or liquidate assets.

Contact Hedtke Law Group for Your Free Consultation

If you are facing difficulties with the probate process, get in touch with an Inland Empire probate attorney right away. We will take the time to understand the details of your situation so that we can streamline the process for you. We understand these times can be difficult, which is why we are here to guide you.

Get a probate administration lawyer from Hedtke Law Group.