After someone dies in California, an estate may have to go through probate, which is the legal process for settling affairs, distributing assets, paying off debts, etc.

If the estate is large and the decedent had a Will, the first step is to get Letters of Testamentary. Keep reading for all you need to know about the process, including how a legal document preparer can save you substantial time and money.

What our Clients Say...
“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 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.
“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.
“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
“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 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 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.
“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
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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..
“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
“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
“A People’s Choice did a great job on the probate I had to go through for my mom. I really didn’t have to think about most of it. I just signed or filled out the papers they sent through the Portal. I would definitely use A People’s Choice again if the need arises! All their people were professional and friendly. Overall it was a great experience for me at a very difficult time!
L. Wade.
“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
“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 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
“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
“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.
My father-in-law passed away without a will so his estate went into probate and we were intimidated by the paperwork and court process ahead of us. A lawyer was recommended to us, but after sending him everything he asked for he did nothing with it for several weeks and was slow to get back to us. His fees were set to be thousands upon thousands and we were frustrated that progress wasn’t happening. We stumbled upon A People’s Choice and we took a leap, switched, and we’re so glad we did. They were quick to respond and moved as quickly as we did. They saved us SO MUCH money and answered all our questions. We worked together to get everything done smoothly, and we felt like APC treated us with respect and patience. We are so grateful we found them and got everything done with confidence. Thank you APC!”
Suzie H.
“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.
“A People’s Choice is an incredible organization and extremely well-run business. My probate was taking place in California, but I live in Washington state. Probate is extremely expensive, but A People’s Choice is able to lower this expense by a huge amount and provide outstanding service. Probate is very stressful – it has a legal language all its own. A People’s Choice provides all the information you need to understand Probate and lower your stress. They are truly worth much more than their reasonable fees. I am a legal “dummy”. I was treated with respect and given answers to questions about the process. Their staff is incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. They get back to you quickly and are very efficient. I would recommend A People’s Choice to anyone that is dealing with Probate. I am so thankful that I found this excellent organization!!
Kathy H.
“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

Get help with Letters Testamentary in Probate!

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What is Probate?

Probate is the multi-step process of itemizing and valuing a deceased person’s estate. Once that valuation is complete, the court can approve the final distribution. It can take nine months or more before heirs and survivors are eligible to receive their inheritance. If the decedent created a Will, probate distributes the estate assets according to what the document states. If the decedent died without a Will, probate will distribute the estate assets according to California’s intestate succession laws.

What are Letters Testamentary?

Letters of Testamentary provide an appointed executor (or personal representative) the right and authority to settle a decedent’s estate according to the terms of a Will. In some situations, the court will require the executor to post a bond before getting Letters of Testamentary in probate.

The Last Will of the decedent may waive the bond requirement, or, sometimes a decedent’s Will specifies a specific bond amount. Even if everyone agrees to waive bond, most courts will require one if a personal representative lives outside of California.

If the decedent did not have a Will, the Letters are called Letters of Administration.

Letters officially allow the executor to act in place of the decedent. In other words, issued Letters allow the representative to contact and speak to banks, creditors, pay bills, and take other action on behalf of the estate. At the same time, Letters of Testamentary permit the representative to act in other matters involving the decedent’s estate, including completing an inventory of the estate. This inventory includes an appraisal of all non-monetary assets. With Letters, the personal representative can use the estate assets to pay taxes and creditors.

How To Get a Letter of Testamentary in California

  1. If the decedent had a Will, you should lodge the original Will with the probate court. Next, you must prepare a probate petition. Be sure to include a copy of the decedent’s Will and death certificate with the probate petition. As soon as you file the petition, the court will schedule a hearing date.
  2. The next step is publication, which is part of the critical notice requirement in all probate cases. To properly complete publication, you must meet several rules and specifications. Keep in mind that, on average, it can cost between $200 and $800.
  3. At the probate hearing, if there was a Will, the court will verify its validity and confirm the personal representative or executor to administer the estate. If there is no Will, the court will appoint an administrator for the estate. The duties of a personal representative or the administrator are the same. Each is empowered to act in a responsible and fiduciary manner to settle the estate.

Do I Need An Attorney?

The probate process takes approximately nine months to complete. Because of the number of requirements, it’s easy to overlook something that could extend the process and cause larger issues. Instead of hiring an attorney, consider the services of a legal document assistant to save money and easily complete each step of settling a probate estate. A legal document assistant with probate expertise can quickly help you navigate the process.

FAQs

What is a Letter of Testamentary?
Letters of Testamentary provide an appointed executor (or personal representative) the right and authority to settle a decedent’s estate according to the terms of a Will.

How do I get a Letter of Testamentary in California?
Start by filing a petition with the probate court in the county where the decedent lived. Along with the written petition document, you will need to submit the original Will and an official death certificate. Anyone else connected to the estate, including heirs and survivors, needs to be informed of the filing. Depending on the circumstances, you may need to attend a court hearing, where a judge will decide whether to grant the Letter.

How long does it take to get Letters of Testamentary in California?
The time it takes to be awarded a Letter of Testamentary in California will depend on the complexity of the estate, the court’s schedule, and whether there are any objections or disputes. Courts usually schedule this hearing within 3-5 months from the date the Petition was filed.

How much do Letters of Testamentary cost?
There are a variety of court and third-party fees involved in filing probate. Court filing fees exceed $400, in addition to the requirement of notifying everyone involved with the estate and completing the required publication These additional costs can range between $400 and $1000 on average. Additionally, if you hire an attorney to assist you with the probate process, their fees will depend on their hourly rate or the structure of their fee arrangement.

A People’s Choice offers complete guidance during the probate of your loved one’s estate. Not only do we help to complete and file all paperwork, we also provide case management services to make sure your case stays on track. We can help you get Letters of Testamentary or Letters of Administration in your probate case. Contact us today to start the process.

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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