14th May 2012
Going through probate is something very difficult for families to face. If there is no Will, then California law and the Court will decide who are the heirs, and what inheritance they will receive. Some family members will be included as heirs, and some will be excluded.
Even if there is a Will that specifically sets out in writing the bequests and gifts of the decedent, the Probate process can often tear apart even the most closely knit families. Family members often out of motive, greed or both may seek to contest the will.
Fortunately, most of these arguments stay in the family, but in some cases, they can often grow big – so big that, a probate contest is brought to the court.
If no members of the family are threatening legal action, and the disagreement remains contained within the family, then the Probate process is said to be “uncontested”, and the Court moves forward to settle the estate.
However, when more assets are on the line, people may be more willing to take legal actions, as the stakes are higher. Since there is more to gain, they will usually put up a bigger fight.
Administering the Probate
If you are the person responsible for overseeing the distribution of assets, either as the administrator or executor, then it is essential to retain a probate lawyer, whether there are any disputes or not, especially when the estate is quite large. The probate system is complex in California, and therefore, it is advisable to have an attorney assist you in the administration of the estate since there are many legal procedures to follow and deadlines to meet. If you fail to follow these procedures, you could be subject to legal penalties. If there is any question about the will, you should not hesitate: hire a probate attorney before the situation becomes any more difficult. Probate attorneys in California are paid from the actual estate, and having one on your side can be a substantial relief to you as the executor of the will.
I hope this article helps clarify when to hire a lawyer to help with inheritance battles. When in doubt always seek legal advice from a professional. Many attorneys provide a free consultation so you can get your questions answered as well as interview the attorney to determine if he or she would be the right fit should you need legal help.
As always, you can come to my office for a free 30-minute consultation. Also, there is additional information on this blog about estate planning and probate which many help answer many questions that you have.