• Using a Non-Lawyer Probate Service in California to File Probate

Using a Non-Lawyer Probate Service in California to File Probate

If you have been named the executor of a will, or need to settle a loved one’s estate, your first instinct may be to hire an attorney to handle the probate.  You may not know this, but if the estate is relatively straightforward, you probably don’t need an attorney. For most probate cases, a non-lawyer probate service can handle the filing and completion of probate in California. This means you do not have to hire an expensive lawyer to file probate. It also means you do not have to pay California statutory attorney fees.

What our Clients Say...
“I 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. I live in New England and 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 have a need for probate help, I would highly recommend A People’s Choice.”
Sylvia A
“I had a great experience with my probate using A People’s Choice! The people that assisted me were so helpful.  I could not have done this probate by myself.  I was able to save over 10,000 in lawyer fees!  All my emails were always returned so quickly, and I am a very satisfied customer.  I would highly recommend A People’s Choice to all my friends and family!”
Joi C
“APC did a great job with my father’s probate case. I highly recommend them. Professional staff!!! Probably saved me about $10k.”
Eric N
“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 almost 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
“A People’s Choice is a very responsible and effective company, 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 to help you with your legal documents. You will be very satisfied with their work as I did!!!!”
C. Chiu
“A People’s Choice walked me through the entire probate process. They are so professional and helpful. Thank you to the staff for your guidance and patience to talk me through such difficult time. You made the process very smooth for me. I am so glad that I found you.” 
Sandie K.
“The staff at A People’s Choice 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 that I would get an answer on Monday. Lo and behold, I often got an answer within minutes! We are very pleased and will be referring our friends/family to A People’s Choice!”
L. Garrett
“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 any attorney. I want to thank 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 is exceptional. They prepared all the required legal documents, and all the court filings. They used the e-filing system, which initially I was hesitant about, but I’m so glad they did. It really expedited the process. They always answered my emails in a very timely manner and was always professional. The probate process is long and sometimes seems overwhelming. It’s also very expensive, A People’s Choice saved me thousands of dollars over going 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. They do a great job!”
C.K..
“A People’s Choice was professional and courteous throughout a long probate process. Probate itself is a frustrating and expensive process; however, 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 but 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.  As long as you email them your questions, they will get back to you and they will not 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. I searched the internet for a short period of time looking for help and when 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 on 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.

Get help filing a California Probate!

  • or call 1-800-747-2780

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 $150,000. For estates under $150,000, 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 $150,000, 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!

Obviously, 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. Fees 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! In addition, 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 give 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 quite 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 fairly easy for our clients. In addition, 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.

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

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By |2018-12-30T16:54:20+00:00December 29th, 2018|Probate|0 Comments

About the Author:

Sandra M. McCarthy, founder of A People’s Choice Inc., has worked exclusively in the legal field since 1976. She served as the 2004-2005 President of CALDA (California Association of Legal Document Assistants). She obtained a Paralegal Certificate from the University of California, Santa Barbara. During her career in the legal field, she has worked as a freelance paralegal, law office manager and paralegal studies teacher, and has co-authored numerous legal publications and written hundreds of self-help legal articles. As a registered Legal Document Assistant, Sandy is dedicated to providing affordable, low-cost, self-help document preparation services for California consumers in all 58 counties.

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