Many of our clients approach us wondering how to do probate without a lawyer. Luckily, executors of estates do not always require an attorney’s assistance to efficiently and successfully probate a will. However, that doesn’t mean they have to do it alone. By enlisting the help of a legal document assistant such as A People’s Choice, you can save thousands of dollars in attorneys fees and get help completing and filing all of the required legal documents.

If you are a personal representative or executor of estate who wants to save money and simplify the probate process, follow these five steps to complete your probate without hiring a lawyer:

1. Check Out Small Estate Alternatives and Other Special Cases

Some simplified probate procedures could make settling your loved one’s estate much easier to do on your own. For example, small California estates worth $166,250 or less may be eligible for the California Small Estate Probate Affidavit. Additionally, estates worth $55,425 or less are often eligible for further simplified affidavits. Ultimately, whether you complete the probate totally on your own or with a registered legal document assistant, you’ll save time and money with these simplified processes.

Furthermore, transferring spousal property is another easy way to bypass the probate process. In fact, California law states that all property to which a surviving spouse or domestic partner is entitled to receive outright from a deceased spouse or partner may be “set aside” to the survivor without formal probate. Don’t miss out on the benefits available to special types of estates. In the end, you could save hundreds to thousands of dollars by taking advantage of California probate laws.

2. Consider Whether The Will is Contested or Complicated

When an interested party contests, or challenges, a will, the probate process becomes much more difficult. In fact, a person such as a beneficiary or heir has the right to stop the probate process altogether! At this point, you and the other interested parties will have to respond to the challenge and potentially attend an extra hearing with a judge. While contested wills are rare, they are often an indication that the executor could use an attorney’s support or representation.

Furthermore, if the estate is complicated in any way, you may want to consider consulting a lawyer for legal advice. For example, an estate that includes the administration of millions of dollars or outstanding debt can be tricky to handle on your own. In fact, defending such a complicated or extensive estate without an attorney could potentially result in a void will. Subsequently, the estate’s heirs and beneficiaries may not receive the inheritance the testator desired.

That said, if your review of the will indicates that the estate is straightforward, and no interested parties contest the decedent’s wishes, you’ll have an easier time doing probate on your own.

3. Research Local Court Rules and Other Requirements

As with any legal proceeding, local courts often have county-specific guidelines and forms. Therefore, if you are attempting to probate an estate without any assistance whatsoever, it’s imperative that you properly research your local county court’s regulations. Additionally, be sure to use a legal document assistant (LDA) or obtain your forms directly from your county court’s website. Oftentimes, individuals who try to probate an estate without legal assistance choose to use free, downloadable legal documents. While this is a great way to save money, these documents are often outdated or inappropriate for the estate and/or your local court. Luckily, working with an LDA such as A People’s Choice is a great way to avoid repaying to file documents for a second time.

4. Consult a Legal Document Assistant for Help With Required Forms and Filing Processes

Obtaining your legal documents from an LDA is a great way to ensure you’re utilizing the most optimal forms. However, LDAs such as A People’s Choice are also here to provide further assistance. For example, our no-frills probate petition documents-only service provides clients with the Order of Probate and Letters of Administration or Letters Testamentary with no court filing or preparation services. However, we also offer a full-service option complete with facilitation of court filings, arranging publication, administrative notices, and ongoing case management services. Click here to learn about all of our flat-fee probate pricing.

Finally, A People’s Choice offers a Quick Start Probate Interview that allows you to share your estate information with us before you hire our services. Not only does the Quick Start Interview provide us with the details necessary to start your probate case ASAP, but it also gives you an opportunity to collect the documentation you will require to probate the estate. Ultimately, learning how a legal document assistant can help you probate your loved one’s estate is risk-free and easy – and you may thank yourself later.

What our Clients Say...
“We had a complicated situation trying to change the beneficiaries to an old family property. There were 7 owners, most of whom were born in the 1800s. A People’s Choice persevered along with us and got it done. Lawyers we had contacted wanted $1000’s more than APC charged us and were unsure as to how to even proceed. We are extremely happy with what they achieved for us.”
Lori A.
“I would have never thought I could complete a full probate online without an attorney. A Peoples Choice guided me through the process every step of the way. They are a very professional and knowledgeable company far exceeding my expectations. My advice to anyone seeking this kind of service is as long as you are committed to doing your part, with A Peoples Choice guidance you will complete the task. A Peoples Choice Is a 5-star company that I was lucky enough to stumble upon in my searching process.”
Rhonda G.
“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!!”
Hisham 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!”
“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!


…or continue reading the article below to learn more about the steps to probate without a lawyer.

5. Carry Out ALL Required Duties 

Executors and personal representatives have a long list of duties as outlined in California probate law. These responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Filing notice of petition to administer estate;
  • Gathering the decedent’s property;
  • Notifying creditors and heirs or devisees;
  • Attending initial and final probate hearings;
  • Handling debts, taxes, and final business affairs;
  • Transferring the decedent’s property to interested persons;
  • Filing any state and federal government and court-required documents; and
  • Closing the probate upon completion

Even when you probate an estate without a lawyer, you do not have to go it alone. In fact, A People’s Choice offers a plethora of full-service options for clients who need extra help. We provide guidance from the initial completion and filing of the first petition to closing the probate. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.

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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