Avoiding attorneys fees when probating a loved one’s estate can make the process easier. However, if you’re wondering how to do probate on your own, keep in mind that you will probably require some sort of guidance during the process. Luckily, a DIY probate doesn’t mean you have to do things totally by yourself. Instead, consider working with a legal document assistant (LDA). LDAs such as A People’s Choice provide attorney-free help completing and filing the necessary legal forms. Plus, working with an LDA can save you hundreds to thousands of dollars, and is just as effective as hiring a probate lawyer.

When Shouldn’t You Do Probate On Your Own?

While a legal document assistant can provide support with completing and filing forms with the court, we cannot provide legal advice. Therefore, before you begin a DIY probate, it’s important to ensure you do not require legal opinions or advice. For example, clients with the following cases usually have to consult an attorney to complete the probate process:

  • an ambiguous will;
  • a contested will;
  • an estate with more debts than assets; and
  • an estate with unresolved claims

If you are dealing with any of the situations above or feel uncomfortable with your duties as executor of your loved one’s estate, be sure to contact an attorney for legal advice. Plus, keep in mind that you may usually consult an attorney for one meeting without hiring them for the entire case. This way, you can ask for help determining if you can probate the estate on your own.

What to Do BEFORE Starting Probate On Your Own

Even if you feel comfortable probating an estate on your own, you should still get in contact with a legal document assistant. Believe it or not, there are many cases in which executors can utilize alternatives to probate or even avoid probate altogether! For example, California offers several small estate alternatives for estates with a total value under $166,250. Plus, the spouse of a decedent can file a spousal proceeding no matter the size of the estate. Therefore, you could save time and money by consulting a legal document assistant prior to starting your probate. A People’s Choice can help you determine which probate form is best for your situation.

What our Clients Say...
“VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!! My experience with A People’s Choice was EXCELLENT!! I retained their services to help me with the probate process after unexpectedly losing my Mom. I received quotes from 2 lawyers locally and they were 3 to 4 times the price. All communications from the staff were punctual and very thoroughly explained. They were there to support me the entire time. Any and all questions I had were explained as needed with very quick responses. There were NO HIDDEN FEES or charges. They have a very easy to use portal to access all of the documents. I can’t say enough good things about the work that they did for me!!! Thank you to all the staff. You are an amazing team and I appreciate everything you did to help my family and I when we needed it most!!”
Bryan A.
“The entire team at A People’s Choice were very supportive in our probate case. Losing a parent is extremely difficult, and so is the subsequent paperwork.  A People’s Choice made it easier and charged a very fair price, saving us thousands in attorney fees. What I liked a lot was the transparency and digital tools used. Documents were managed via email and on a platform. Payment for court items was easy. I appreciate that they use modern methods in an old school industry and most things could be done remotely. All in all, I can definitely recommend A People’s Choice if your case is straightforward. Thank you to Sandy and team for helpful us get here! What a huge relief! I’m glad we had your support along the way. Made it way less stressful and way more manageable.”
Jenn C.
“I cannot say enough about the time and money this company saved me. With their help I finished Probate in Tulare Co on my brother estate in little over 12 months. I am a letter carrier with no legal training, yet , I completed the entire process mainly because A People’s Choice walked me thru each step. They filed most papers electronically which resulted in me needing only three court appearances (and saved me from many trips to Visalia.) Keep in mind, all probates are different but if you have limited resources I recommend this company. The Probate Judge complimented me on the good work I received from A People’s Choice, saying this was not always to case with other legal help offices.”
Jack M.
“I used A People’s Choice to prepare and file documents to probate my sister’s estate.  I began the probate process in pro per and hired them after discovering the difficulty in processing the probate by myself.  Very knowledgeable with good technology to keep me informed.  Their fees were significantly less than what I would have had to pay for an attorney, yet their services were excellent. I can’s see where an attorney would have been any better (or as good). Highly recommend this service.”
Ron C.
“Can’t say enough about the level of service and professionalism I received working with A People’s Choice. Emails were always responded to quickly and thoughtfully. They really care about the process and helping you get the best result with no up-selling. Of course, they can’t provide legal advice, but I was referred to an attorney when I needed some questions answered who was very reasonable and easy to get a hold of as well. The process played out according to plan, and I ended up saving a lot of money by going with A People’s Choice over an attorney.”
M. Rice
“I am writing to give A People’s Choice my utmost recommendation. Living in New England, I found them on the web. After speaking with a staff member on the phone I had the confidence to give them my business. A People’s Choice handled my probate case with great professionalism and knowledge. My case turned out to be more complicated than originally believed, and the staff walked me through each step. They always responded promptly to my email questions. In the end, their service was exactly what I hoped for; they saved me thousands of dollars and allowed me to do it from across the country. They were truly a pleasure to work with.”
K. Levenson
“A People Choice provided excellent support with the appropriate legal documents and filing process in a spousal property petition after my husband passed. Lawyers wanted to charge me a fortune. However, once I spoke with someone at A People’s Choice, they took on my case and guided me through every step. A People’s Choice has years of experience, which gave me a sense of trust and confidence. I always got immediate feedback from every email request. If you need probate help, I would highly recommend A People’s Choice.”
Sylvia A
“I had a great experience with my California probate case using A People’s Choice! The people that assisted me were so helpful.  I certainly could not have done this probate by myself.  The best part was that I was able to save over $10,000 in lawyer fees!  All my emails were always returned so quickly. Needless to say, I am a very satisfied customer.  I would highly recommend A People’s Choice to all my friends and family!”
Joi C
“When my mother-in-law passed away last year, we didn’t know what to do. We contacted A People’s Choice and from day one they were very helpful. They held our hand every step of the way, and if I had a question any time of the day or night someone got back to me within a few hours. I highly recommend A People’s Choice if you don’t know what to do and don’t want to pay the high price of a lawyer, especially if you don’t have much money.”
Mikki C
“A People’s Choice helped us throughout our entire year-long probate making the process very easy and manageable while at the same time saving us thousands of dollars in lawyer’s fees. Not only were they extremely friendly and fast to respond to our questions but they made the process simple enough that we hardly ever had to contact the courthouse directly and we even had a hearing done without an appearance. Would highly recommend A People’s Choice to anyone!”
A. Vuckovich
“I must say that A People’s Choice is a very responsible and effective company. The staff there is very nice and replied to all my questions by email quickly. With their help, I accomplished the probate in 8 months successfully and saved at least $10,000.00 in attorney fees, so I strongly recommend everybody to contract with A People’s Choice and let them help you with your legal documents. You will be very satisfied with their work as I did!!!!”
C. Chiu
“Thanks to A People’s Choice, I was able to get through a probate matter very smoothly. I had not one issue with the Courts. They guided me through the whole probate until the very end. I live up north, but that didn’t matter, A People’s Choice did an excellent job keeping me informed with everything that I needed to do. I saved THOUSANDS of dollars by going with A People’s Choice. You can’t go wrong, no matter what your needs are. I saved a lot of money by not having to pay out a percentage to an attorney. Many thanks to the staff at A People’s Choice for the great help they give to everyone in their times of need like I was! Thank You.”
R. Leonard
“When my father passed away without a will, we needed help handling the transfer of his assets. Since there weren’t significant assets, I didn’t want to spend too much on the legal paperwork. A People’s Choice offered just the right service we needed. In particular, the staff was very responsive to our document filing needs, helping to turn around corrections almost immediately. They helped to ease a tough situation.”
Michael C.
“I used A People’s Choice for help with a probate matter. My grandfather died Christmas of 2016. He had a living trust, but no one was able to find it. We went to A People’s Choice, and we were able to do a probate affidavit to get what was left of my grandfather’s estate. Took two days for the documents to be prepared and the bank accepted them without any questions. Sandy was the one who assisted us, and we really appreciate the help that was provided. A+ service.”
David R.
“A People’s Choice worked on my probate case for over 1 year. Their knowledge, dedication, and commitment to clients are exceptional, preparing the required legal documents, and all the court filings. They used the e-filing system which really expedited the process. They always answered my emails in a very timely manner and were professional. The probate process is long and sometimes seems overwhelming. It’s also very expensive, A People’s Choice saved me thousands of dollars as compared to an attorney. I would highly recommend A People’s Choice for your probate needs. It’s cost effective, and they handle the entire process from beginning to end!”
C.K..
“Probate itself is a frustrating and expensive process. A People’s Choice was professional and courteous throughout a long probate process. Everyone I came in contact with at A People’s Choice was exceptionally helpful, patient, and professional. For those entering into the probate process, I must warn you that it is difficult to understand. The staff at A People’s Choice makes it as tolerable you could wish for.  The people who work there were kind, efficient, and understanding.  If you email your questions, they’ll get back to you and won’t make you feel like you are ignorant if you are unclear about any part of the process.”
Marcel B
“I needed help understanding and filling out legal documents, but I didn’t have enough money to pay for an attorney. After searching the internet, I found A People’s Choice. I was relieved to know that I would get the exact service that I needed at an affordable price. The staff was very professional and helpful with my legal documents. They worked around my schedule and responded to my emails in a timely manner. They took care of all the paperwork and filing and kept me posted. I would highly recommend A People’s Choice for your legal documents as you will get outstanding service at an affordable price.
Sharon B.
“After not having my call returned from a probate lawyer, I looked into doing a Spousal Property Petition myself.  A People’s Choice assisted me through the whole probate process and everything went smoothly.  When I appeared in court, I didn’t have to say a word. The judge just said, “granted.”  Using A People’s Choice I saved thousands of dollars, and I’m so glad that probate attorney didn’t return my call.  I highly recommend A People’s Choice.”
Donna G.
“A People’s Choice walked me through the entire probate process. This company is very professional and helpful and made a scary probate pretty much stress free. I would send an email with a question I had thought of over the weekend with the expectation I would get an answer on Monday but lo and behold, I often got an answer within minutes! Thank you to the staff for your guidance and patience to talk me through such a difficult time. You made the process very smooth! Probably saved us about $10,000! We are very pleased and will be referring our friends/family to A People’s Choice!”
L. Garrett.
“I had hoped to have my probate process taken care of by myself to save money. After the fourth attempt to file at the Clerk’s office, I left in tears and faced the reality of hiring an attorney. I look on the internet to find one and came across A People’s Choice. They offered a price that was way below what attorneys charge! They guided me through every step of the process and wrote up all the paperwork so that all I had to do was sign. It was really an amazing experience. They are a pleasure to work with.”
D. Chase.
“Thank you so much for all your help through this California probate process.  By using your company instead of a California probate lawyer, we were able to cut our expenses dramatically.  Thank you for answering my many questions and for giving me a heads up on documents that could be prepared in advance in order to save time and money.  There was always someone available to help! Thank you again.”
Craig K.

Get help with your California probate!

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…or continue reading the article below to learn more about the DIY probate process.

How to Do Probate On Your Own: Step-By-Step

Once you’ve decided on a DIY California probate, head over to A People’s Choice to quickly and easily start the process.

Step 1: Complete Our Quick Start Interview

A People’s Choice provides a Quick Start Interview that allows clients to submit their information before hiring our services. Not only does this kickstart the probate process, but it also provides a basis for our one-on-one phone consultation, should you require our assistance. Plus, filling out the Quick Start Interview helps you collect all the information necessary to complete your probate documents.

Step 2: Gather the Necessary Information to Prepare Initial Paperwork

Whether you’re working with an LDA or completing the probate completely on your own, you will need to gather the necessary information for filling out the court-required documents. For example, you will need to reference the following:

  • the decedent’s will or trust;
  • the executor’s, trustee’s, beneficiaries’, and heirs’ addresses and personal information;
  • local court rules and probate proceedings; and
  • the appropriate newspaper for statutory publication

Step 3: Locate, Complete, and File Petition and Other Documents

Once you’ve collected this information, you – with or without an LDA’s help – will need to prepare the appropriate paperwork based on the size of the estate. For example, a small estate will require forms such as the DE-310 (Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property). On the other hand, a large estate will require the DE-111 (Petition for Probate) and DE-150 (Letters). Note that these are only a few of several documents required for probate.

When you work with A People’s Choice, we provide you with all the documents necessary for your circumstances. Additionally, we ensure you are using the appropriate forms based on the specifics of the estate as well as the county in which you’re filing. However, if you would prefer to complete the probate completely on your own, you can usually find the necessary documentation on your local court’s website or at a local legal self-help center.

Step 4: Give Notice

Once you’ve filed the petition for probate, as the personal representative of the decedent, you have the responsibility of arranging for publication of notice to creditors. This publication should appear in the appropriate newspaper based on your location. Additionally, you must send notice of the hearing date to all interested parties.

A People’s Choice provides comprehensive assistance through this process, should you require it.

Step 5: Attend Hearing on Probate

Upon filing your petition for probate, you will receive a hearing date. On this date, you will attend court for a judge to oversee the probate process and ensure you are following the local rules. Then, they will sign all necessary orders and allow you to continue on with the probate process.

Step 6: Take Additional Steps to Complete the Probate Process

Even after the initial hearing, the probate process can take several months to complete. During this time, executors of estates have many responsibilities, including, but not limited to:

  • making an inventory of the deceased’s property;
  • paying outstanding debts;
  • filing all required tax documents;
  • listing gifts to beneficiaries; and
  • keeping up a detailed accounting of all assets to be sent to all interested parties

Luckily, when you work with A People’s Choice, we have full service options to assist you throughout the entire probate process. These services include case management and additional support, should you require it.

Step 7: Attend Hearing on Petition for Final Distribution

After you have completed your executor duties, you will attend a final probate hearing. At this hearing, the judge will confirm that the inventory and accounting statements are accurate, and approve the final distribution. Additionally, you will distribute gifts or inheritance to beneficiaries or heirs. Then, at the end of the court appearance, you can submit a petition to close the estate.

Why Use A People’s Choice?

If you’re wondering how to do probate on your own, consider hiring a registered legal document assistant. A People’s Choice has over 40 years of experience assisting clients with probate. Plus, our Quick Start Interview provides a commitment-free opportunity to kickstart your probate.

Choose from either our full service or document-only packages for no surprise, flat fee rates. You can read some of our testimonials here; or, contact A People’s Choice today for more information on how we can help you with your DIY probate!

Get help with your Legal documents today!

A People’s Choice can save you hundreds of dollars by preparing your legal documents instead of an expensive attorney!

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