A good Probate Attorney is one who is experienced in dealing with a variety of Probates. You may find an experienced Probate Attorney on a legal website, an online search or by a referral. No matter where you find the Lawyer, your first step is to arrange for a consultation. Legal Action Workshop offers a free initial consultation in which all aspects of the Probate will be discussed. This is the time to ask your questions and find out about the cost, time frame and any important issues that would impact your Probate.
It’s a good idea to be prepared when speaking with the Attorney. Since Probate usually begins with the death of a spouse, family member or close friend, it’s best to know the date of death and if the decedent had a Will or a Trust. A Will or a Trust would specify beneficiaries (those who will inherit).If there is a Will, the Lawyer can check to make sure it is valid. A Will does not avoid Probate and is typically probated. When there is a Trust, Probate is avoided and the estate would require a ‘Trust transfer’ which is the process of transferring the asset(s) to the beneficiaries listed.
When there is no Will or Trust and there are assets that need to be distributed, a Probate is usually needed. The asset(s) is distributed following the rule of ‘intestate succession’ which outlines succession according to the California Probate Code. The code answers questions such as who will inherit and who has priority to be the administrator of the estate.
When the asset is a house or condo it’s best to have an idea of its value as well as the amount of equity the property may have. It would also be useful to know if there is a ‘reverse mortgage’ on the property. When there are other assets such as bank accounts, investment accounts or valuables such as art, cars etc, the Attorney will also want to know the approximate value.