Stevenson Law Office assists clients in probate administration, and also represents beneficiaries, heirs, conservators, administrators, and executors in probate litigation.
We can guide you through the probate process and ensure your rights and interests are protected in the event of a dispute.
What is Probate?
Probate is the court-supervised process of identifying and gathering a deceased person’s assets to ensure that any final debts are paid and any remaining assets are transferred to the decedent’s beneficiaries. Beneficiaries may be named in a person’s will or distributed to the decedent’s heirs according to California’s laws governing intestate succession if the decedent died without a will.
A will is a document that allows a person to state their last wishes. If there’s no will, California law dictates what happens to a person’s assets. As a San Diego probate attorney, I take great care to help each client make a meaningful will that expresses their wishes and doesn’t leave room for ambiguity.
We Can Help With Probate
If a loved one is deceased, you must file a petition in the correct court. You also have to give notice to both creditors and beneficiaries. They have an opportunity to object. In some cases, the court uses an appointed appraiser to value certain assets. Finally, the court grants the petition. The representative may then transfer the property from the estate to its new owners.
When our firm is brought in to assist with probate, it is our goal to make all of this manageable. In some cases, you may need to file an objection in a probate matter. When that’s the case, we handle the paperwork so that you can have confidence and peace of mind as you work through a difficult time.
Complex Probate Administration
If an estate is not complicated, probating a will is typically a straightforward process. The executor (a personal representative for the estate) is required to file a petition to schedule a hearing of the will in probate court, which interested parties may attend. During the hearing, the court reviews the will and clears assets for transfer to the named beneficiaries.
Unfortunately, however, probate administration is rarely so simple, and can be quite complex and confusing for the personal representative or estate executor named in a will. We help estate fiduciaries take care of all the details necessary to settle an estate, including the preparation and filing of all necessary documents, notifying creditors, handling tax issues, and overseeing the orderly distribution of property.
Experienced Sherman Oaks Probate Litigation Attorneys
Disputes can develop during the probate process for many reasons. In some cases, conflicts may arise during the process of estate administration. During estate administration, the estate executor or administrator of a trust owes a fiduciary loyalty to beneficiaries of an estate. If an executor or administrator is not fair or honest when handling assets, heirs and beneficiaries can apply to probate court for relief, charging breach of fiduciary duty. Please see our trusts and estates litigation page for more information about these types of disputes.
Disagreements involving the validity of a will are also common during probate. Will contests may be based on lack of proper drafting, signatures, or witnesses; claims that the testator (person making the will) lacked the mental capacity to understand the nature of his or her assets or the terms of the will, as in cases of dementia, psychosis, or irrational conduct; and/or claims of undue influence by a friend, relative, or health care worker who compelled or coerced the testator to sign the will.
The attorneys at Stevenson Law Office have significant experience in probate litigation involving estate administration and will contests, as well as cases involving probate fraud, abuse of power of attorney, and conservatorship abuse. In providing high quality counsel for parties to probate litigation, we rely on thorough research, years of courtroom experience, and a clear understanding of the subtleties of probate law.
Contact Skilled Probate Lawyer
Whether you are an executor, administrator, conservator, beneficiary, or heir, a Sherman Oaks and Thousand Oaks probate litigation attorney from the Stevenson Law Office can provide the guidance and representation you need throughout the probate process. Please contact our firm to schedule a consultation and learn more about our probate services.