Probate Attorney

Law Offices of Gregory S. Duncan

What Do I Need To Know About Probate?

Our law offices have been assisting individuals and families with the formalities required to sort out the affairs of their loved ones for over 20 years. It can be a confusing time following a death and difficult to know what steps to take first. Our experience will ensure a compassionate and streamlined probate process.

Probate can be a time-consuming and complex legal process. When a person dies, somebody has to handle the property and financial affairs of their estate. These may include Real Property, Personal Property, Bank Accounts, and Stocks etc…

The petition for Probate is prepared by the attorney for the individual who will be appointed as the personal representative of the estate, namely, an "executor" or "administrator." This petition provides information to the court about the decedent, the size of the estate, types of estate assets and debts, the personal representative, and information regarding all potential legal heirs of the estate.

Once formally appointed by the court, the executor or administrator (usually a family member) is authorized to collect and inventory all the financial accounts, debts, real property, and personal property of the estate. They will eventually distribute the estate to those legally entitled.

Who Inherits Decedent’s Property When There Is No Will?

Intestate Succession refers to the order in which family members of the decedent inherit when no Will or Trust exists. Estate assets include all property owned by decedent at the time of death, such as real property and personal property. If the decedent was married at the time of death, then California Community Property Laws would apply to all assets acquired during marriage. If decedent had separate property as well that property would be distributed pursuant to California Intestate Succession Laws which are set out in Probate Code Sections 6400-6414:

(a) As to community property, the intestate share of the surviving spouse is the one-half of the community property that belongs to the decedent under Section 100.

(b) As to quasi-community property, the intestate share of the surviving spouse is the one-half of the quasi-community property that belongs to the decedent under Section 101.

(c) As to separate property, the intestate share of the surviving spouse is as follows:

(1) The entire intestate estate if the decedent did not leave any surviving issue, parent, brother, sister, or issue of a deceased brother or sister.

(2) One-half of the intestate estate in the following cases:

(A) Where the decedent leaves only one child or the issue of one deceased child.

(B) Where the decedent leaves no issue, but leaves a parent or parents or their issue or the issue of either of them.

(3) One-third of the intestate estate in the following cases:

(A) Where the decedent leaves more than one child.

(B) Where the decedent leaves one child and the issue of one or more deceased children.

(C) Where the decedent leaves issue of two or more deceased children.

These laws can be complicated and difficult to understand. If you find yourself in this type of situation, please call our office to discuss. We are happy to answer your questions (760) 729-2774.

What is Trust Administration?

Trust Administration can be a long and complicated process. If a love one has passed away and left a revocable living trust. This trust must be administered according to the terms of the trust, and for the benefit of the beneficiaries. Trust Administration begins with notice to all beneficiaries and heirs at law. After receiving notice, the beneficiaries and heirs at law have 120 days to file a trust contest. If the decedent owned real property, title to that property needs to be re-titled in the name of the successor trustee until such time as the property is distributed to the trust’s beneficiaries. In addition, the successor trustee has a fiduciary duty to prudently invest trust assets in a reasonable manner.

Our firm will identify and inventory all estate assets and debts. Verify ownership of the estate assets, and determine their monetary value at the time of their owner’s death. Proper valuation of estate assets is important because of income tax and estate tax consequences. Identify and pay all creditors of the estate. File tax returns, prepare a trust accounting for all beneficiaries, and prepare a distribution plan according to the terms of the trust.

Please call our office to discuss the specifics of your case. Our office offers a free 30- minute strategy session (760) 729-2774.

Free Consultation

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During your consultation, Gregory S. Duncan will review your legal issue and discuss the best course of action. All communication is held in the strictest confidence.

Call us today! Office: (760) 729-2774 or complete our online form.