Things to Consider When You Compare Online Probate Services
This article will cover three areas of discussion that are important to consider when you compare online probate services. They are:
- Know what probate services you are getting for what you are paying
- Evaluate the probate service’s experience and reputation
- Take time to learn about the probate process and what is required to complete your California probate
Know What Probate Services You Are Buying
Probate is a lengthy and complicated process and usually takes a minimum of 9 months. There are three different stages to the process:
Stage 1 – the Petition and Letters, appointment of personal representative
Stage 2 – Inventory, Appraisals, Notices, and Creditors Claims
Stage 3 – Distribution, Receipts, and Closing
To fully compare online probate services, you need to dig a big deeper and know what you are paying for. I am always surprised when I see companies that promote filing a probate petition for $500. First, the pricing is deceptive because customers are unaware that probate requires much more than preparing a “Probate Petition.” A review of these companies show they all simply provide an electronic way for customers to answer questions directly into court forms, often with no up-front costs until you pay their fee. Unfortunately, what you get is what you could do by going to the local court’s self-help center for free.
Completing a probate petition for approval by a judge requires substantially more than what these cheap services offer. But an appealing “low-fee” tactic does undoubtedly entice people to get started with their service. Unfortunately, it’s only later on when misguided customers learn the true scope of what is necessary and the extra fees that the company now requires to ultimately complete the 9-month probate process.
Probate is More than Filing a Probate Petition
Preparing and filing the probate petition is only one small aspect of completing a California probate. If paperwork is incomplete or prepared improperly (or doesn’t meet the court’s local rules and requirements) the court will continue the hearing. We often talk to potential customers who have faced multiple hearing continuances for one problem or another. This is the value of using an experienced and full-service probate company. A People’s Choice has an extremely high pre-approval rate for the probate petitions we file. In fact, judges often complement our clients on the exceptional comprehensive nature of the documents we have prepared on their behalf.
Secondly, when the court approves a probate petition and confirms the personal representative to act, that is only the start of the probate process. Once the court appoints the personal representative, the next 4 to 6 months cover a variety of other tasks to prepare the estate for distribution. In between the hearing on the Petition for Probate and the last hearing on the Petition for Distribution, there are many other steps and documents required to keep the probate case progressing on time.
So how do you get through this complicated probate process without an attorney? First, when you compare online probate services, make sure you check their reputation. You want to hire a document preparation company with a long-standing reputation for preparing probate paperwork. It seems to be a money-making opportunity these days, with companies cropping up right and left offering low-cost probate services. The question is, how long have they been providing these services? Are they new to the probate documentation field? What is their track record in successfully helping people complete probate?
Be aware, many of these probate services offering low-cost petition are attorneys trying to capture probate business with low-cost teaser ”Petitions.” Don’t get caught on the back-end of the probate process with their higher fees! A People’s Choice has been in business for over 40 years. Our track record speaks for itself, and court clerks and judges routinely refer people to our office “stuck in the process” for non-attorney probate help to complete their case.
Probate is More than Probate Documents
Secondly, when you compare online probate services, make sure you hire a service that offers more than document preparation. With the time deadlines and intricacies of the lengthy probate process, successful completion of probate requires more than completing paperwork! Sometimes people contact us who managed to complete the Petition phase and now want help to close the probate. More often than not, after looking at the court docket, their case is nowhere close or ready to close. In other words, it is quite common for people to miss the entire middle phase of the probate process without realizing it! Unfortunately, this causes delays to the probate process. Often these delays require extra paperwork to explain to the court why the case has not appropriately progressed.
A People’s Choice provides a comprehensive case management system to make sure that every step in the probate process is timely completed. Our goal is to make sure documents are prepared and filed at the proper time, and the case is closed as quickly as possible. Not only do we prepare the probate paperwork, but we also offer complimentary case management to make sure your probate case moves along without delays.
Probate Requires Timely Case Management
As mentioned above, the California probate process takes a minimum of 9 months. So what happens during those nine months? There are many moving parts and steps in the probate process. Unfortunately, the court expects you to know what needs to be done and when it needs to be done. That’s pretty scary. The court will typically set a deadline for when they expect the case to be ready for distribution. With this in mind, it is the responsibility of the Petitioner to make sure the case timely reaches that stage. So how do you get from Point A to Point Z if you don’t know the probate process and you are representing yourself? The answer is to make sure your probate service is there helping you get there.
A People’s Choice has helped thousands of self-represented individuals successfully complete their California probate. You don’t need to hire an expensive attorney to file probate. Customers can choose to hire us for one low, up-front fee for the entire standard probate process. On the other hand, customers can also choose to hire us per separate phase of the probate process. If you are on a quest to compare probate services, we urge you to call us today to learn more about how what makes our probate services unique. We offer a free introductory phone appointment and are available from 8 am to 8:30 pm 7 days a week. Contact us through our website or give us a call at 800-747-2780.