A People’s Choice has helped thousands of people represent themselves in California probate. Unlike some competitors who only prepare forms, we offer a full-service option and manage the probate case from beginning to end. A People’s Choice helps with every step of the probate case until complete. Probate is not an easy process to undertake without some professional help. Even the simplest of California probates can take up to 9 months to complete!
Sometimes the decedent’s assets can be transferred without probate. For example, the decedent’s assets might be in a trust or have a named beneficiary. California has several probate options to settle small estates worth less than $166,250. For estates under $166,250, we can help you settle the estate using an alternative probate process. These alternative proceedings cost substantially less than a full probate case, saving the estate even more money. On the other hand, if the assets total more than $166,250, but the assets are standard assets such as a house, a few bank accounts, and some personal property, an experienced non-lawyer probate service can still handle the probate process, saving the estate thousands of dollars in legal fees. This is how A People’s Choice can help!
Hiring a Probate Service to Prepare Probate Forms
If a personal representative of the estate decides to settle the estate on his/her own, they will surely need some help with preparing and filing the required documents. In this regard, the family can hire a probate service that is a registered legal document assistant to prepare the forms. Keep in mind, however, there are lots of variations on what type of help these non-attorney probate services provide. It is essential to hire a probate service that not only prepares the documents but also helps you manage the probate case to completion.
Can you hire a probate paralegal? Absolutely not – a paralegal offering such services would be doing so against the law! California requires that people who prepare probate documents register and meet specific educational requirements. Registration must be filed with the County Clerk’s office. A Registered Legal Document Assistant meets specific educational requirements and has filed a bond to protect the customer. You may be surprised, but a paralegal does not meet these criteria. Before you hire, make sure you hire a company that has the legal requirements to provide the probate services you need.
Understanding the Differences Between Online Probate Services
Many online services merely offer forms generated by software, with no personal, hands-on help. Unfortunately, this means if you answer questions wrong (which happens often), your documents will also be incorrect. On the contrary, A People’s Choice personally prepares every probate document generated by our office. We review your information for content and correctness. If something looks wrong, we will bring it to your attention. With our hands-on approach, about 95% of our probate cases are designated “pre-approved” by the court, even before the hearing, a statistic we are quite proud of that many attorneys cannot even claim!
The main advantage of using a non-lawyer probate service is the cost. A document preparer typically charges a reasonable flat fee for their services. Pricing can range from less than a thousand dollars for preparing summary probate filings to several thousand dollars for full probate filings. Prices are usually set using a base fee with an adjustment for estates with a large number of assets or different beneficiaries.
In comparison, a probate attorney earns a statutory percentage of the gross value of the estate. In probate you can calculate attorney fees as follows: 4% of the first $100,000, 3% of the next $100,000, 2% of the next $800,000, 1% of the next $9,000,000, 0.5% of the next $15,000,000, and a reasonable amount for estates valued over $25,000,000. For an estate valued at $300,000, attorney fees will be $9000! Also, the attorney’s fee could be even more if the attorney performs extra services. Check out our probate calculator to see exactly how much you could save using the probate services of A People’s Choice.
Legal Advice in Probate
Remember, a non-attorney legal document preparer cannot give legal advice. In California, a probate service document preparer can provide you lawyer-approved legal materials. They cannot advise you beyond that. This means if you need answers to legal questions, we will recommend you speak to an attorney. Keep in mind, probate is entirely procedural, so it is not often that a client will need legal advice. If they do, however, there are low-cost options to get it. Lastly, A People’s Choice cannot represent you in court. Since the probate hearings are very routine and, as mentioned earlier, the court pre-approves most of our probate filings, court hearings are relatively easy for our clients. Besides, many of our clients attend their hearing over the phone.
When going through probate, there may be certain documents a non-lawyer cannot prepare for you. For example, if someone contests the will, then you may need a lawyer. A will contest does not, however, mean you need to run out and hire a lawyer. Our office has helped many clients prepare opposition and successfully oppose will contests. However, some will contests become long, drawn-out litigation cases, which definitely require lawyer expertise. In addition, if the decedent’s debts exceed the value of the estate, then you may need a lawyer to help with determining which creditors you need to pay first. No matter what, however, using the probate service of A People’s Choice gives you more value for your dollar. Remember, in probate, you only need to hire an attorney when you need an attorney’s advice and expertise. Contact us today at 800-747-2780 for more information about our low-cost probate services and how we can save you money.