In the movies, they make inheriting money look simple: You get a letter in the mail or a phone call saying that you inherited a certain amount of money from a recently deceased relative, then you deposit the check in your bank account, and then you go on a spending spree. In real life, there are a lot of steps between when the people named as heirs in a deceased person’s will are identified and when the inheritance money reaches their bank accounts. Specifically, the estate must go through probate. Understanding probate estate laws is key to getting through the process in as inexpensively as possible.
If you are the personal representative of the estate, also sometimes called the executor or executrix of the will, then you are the one doing most of the work to ensure that the money gets to the heirs according to probate estate laws. Most of the time, there are no major obstacles, so you do not need a lawyer. It is still a lot of very precise and tedious work, though. You can save money and stress by hiring a California registered legal document assistant to prepare the probate forms. A registered legal document assistance can also help you better understand probate estate laws by providing you with informational materials written and approved by an attorney. Read on to learn more.
Probate Estate Laws Govern Your Duties as the Personal Representative of an Estate
From start to finish, probate usually takes a little less than a year. The probate courts supervise the entire process, but the personal representative of the estate does most of the work involved. First, you must apply to admit the estate for probate. Once probate starts, you, as the personal representative of the estate, have to follow probate estate laws. These duties are incorporated in DE-147 Duties and Liabilities of the Personal Representative, a form filed with the probate petition, and include:
- Locating all the assets (including bank accounts, real estate properties, and personal property) that belonged to the deceased person and determining the value of these assets.
- Publishing notices online and in print newspapers, inviting creditors and anyone else who has unfinished financial business with the deceased person to claim money from the estate
- Collecting income from the deceased person’s investments while the estate is open
- Paying expenses associated with the property of the estate
- Filing a tax return for the estate before it settles
- Paying debts owed by the estate
- Distributing the deceased person’s property to his or her heirs, according to the instructions in the will
In order to repay the debts or to divide the estate as specified in the will, you might have to sell some of the estate’s property. It can be a hassle, but hiring a lawyer will cost you a lot of money without saving you a lot of trouble.
You Might be Able to Avoid Probate
Probate estate laws in California provide a variety of way to settle an estate. Some estates can avoid probate entirely. If the value of the estate is $166,250 or less, it may qualify for a simplified probate alternative. California probate estate laws provide that an estate that meets this threshold because the deceased person did not own much property or because they kept most of their assets in a trust, and trusts are exempt from probate.
A People’s Choice is a Cost-Effective Alternative to Hiring a Lawyer
Having your probate documents professionally prepared is a practical way to avoid the hassles of probate estate laws. Contact A People’s Choice and have a registered legal document assistant prepare your probate documents. Please call us at 800-747-2780 for more information and details about our services.
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