Family members often believe that they have to hire a probate lawyer in California to probate their loved one’s estate. However, A People’s Choice has helped countless individuals probate their loved one’s estate in California without a probate lawyer.

Read on to learn more secrets probate lawyers in California won’t tell you, and how A People’s Choice can help.

1. It Does Not Take Years to Probate an Estate

Lawyers often tell their clients that it may take years to probate their loved one’s estate. Unfortunately, many lawyers use such scare tactics to convince people to hire their services. Furthermore, probate lawyers make it seem too difficult for individuals to navigate a probate proceeding on their own.

However, the majority of probate proceedings in California are routine and uncomplicated. Often, beneficiaries are usually in complete agreement, and the estate merely needs to be settled.  Despite this, most attorneys insist that clients cannot successfully complete a California probate proceeding without hiring a lawyer. Clearly, this statement is untrue.

Probate processes rarely last longer than a year. Statistically, an uncontested probate of a small estate in California is typically completed in seven to nine months. Plus, early estate planning efforts can greatly reduce the property subject to probate and processing time.

Keep in mind that a contested will or sold assets will usually prolong probate. However, if there are no issues with creditors, taxes, or family members contesting the will, an estate can be probated very quickly.

2. You Can Avoid Formally Probating an Estate

Believe it or not, not all estates must go through the formal probate process. For example, small estates without real property can use an affidavit for the collection of personal property to probate personal property valued under $166,250. Once the affidavit is complete, the title or possession of property is immediately transferred to the person or institution with custody.

Additionally, there are other alternative small estate proceedings for estates with real property. For example, estates with real property valued under $55,425 or $166,250 may use two optional simple probate proceedings to transfer real property. Plus, there is also a special probate proceeding for spouses to transfer property held only in the decedent spouse’s name. In such cases, a spouse can file a spousal petition to avoid a full probate.

In addition to using these simplified probate alternative proceedings, you can use the following pre-death options to keep both real and personal property from undergoing probate:

  • Payment-on-Death Designations – Transfers bank accounts upon the owner’s death.
  • Transfer-on-Death Deed – Use this tool to transfer real property upon death. 
  • Vehicle Transfer on Death Registration – Transfers vehicles upon the registered owner’s death. 
  • Joint Tenancy Ownership of Property – Allows the surviving property owner to inherit the decedent’s property share upon death. 

3. You Don’t Need a Probate Lawyer in California to Probate an Estate

The biggest secret probate lawyers DON’T want you to know is that you are not legally obliged to hire a probate lawyer in California to probate an estate.

If the beneficiaries of the estate are cooperative, whether the decedent had a will or not, you can easily navigate the probate process using the professional non-attorney services of A People’s Choice. If legal complications arise around taxes and debt obligations, you can always consult a probate lawyer for legal advice and guidance. However, you are still not required to hire the lawyer to represent the estate. Handling the probate on your own will save the estate thousands of dollars.

Benefits of foregoing a probate lawyer in California

If you choose to hire a probate lawyer in California, you will pay statutory fees based on the gross value of the estate. These statutory fees are quite high. In fact, probate lawyers in California often collect over $10,000 in fees for even a very modest estate.

To calculate how much an attorney would charge to probate your estate, use our convenient probate calculator. This online tool will also identify how much you will save by using A People’s Choice.

Additionally, hiring a lawyer to represent the estate will not expedite the process or present fewer hurdles than using A People’s Choice.

A client recently shared her personal experience after attending her initial probate hearing. She wrote:

I appeared in Orange County Court yesterday and was granted executor duties. I have to say there were 40 cases, 20 of which were postponed before even talking to the Judge because of deficiencies in paperwork, etc. There were two petitions granted and one was mine. Yeah for A Peoples Choice….Thank you for the excellent job.

Believe it or not, the majority of cases postponed in this case were represented by an attorney!

A People’s Choice has been providing low-cost self-help legal document services in California for over 40 years and has established an excellent reputation in the community. Contact A People’s Choice for more information about how to probate an estate in California and avoid costly attorney fees.

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