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It's Never Too Early to Start Planning Your Estate

When you die, most of your assets will be subject to probate, the court-supervised process of following the instructions in your will. It involves court filings, appointing someone to oversee the process, inventorying assets, and notifying creditors. Probate can be costly and time-consuming.

Probate constitutes the legal procedure through which the assets of a deceased individual are assessed, and beneficiaries are identified. While not mandatory in all cases of death, it becomes crucial when the estate left behind holds significant value. Typically, probate proceedings center around the presence of a valid will.

One exception to probate is the living trust. A trust is a legal entity into which you can transfer your home, car, stocks, bonds, and other major assets. The “trustee” controls the property in the trust and you can name yourself trustee or another person or entity.

Avoid delays and expenses of probate. With a living trust, property can often be transferred after death much faster than by will, since property left by a will has to go through the probate process. Also, the steps taken under a living trust can be less expensive than administering a will.

Flexibility. A living trust can be “revocable”, allowing you to change or cancel it prior to death.

Richard Cornell is a San Diego attorney who focuses on estate planning legal services. He can help you achieve your estate planning goals so your property goes to your loved ones, saving on taxes, and making it hard for others to challenge.

Key Points about Probate:

1. What is Probate:

Probate is the official way of sorting out who gets what after someone passes away. It’s a legal process that involves looking at all the assets and money the person left behind and figuring out who should inherit it. In summary, probate helps make sure everyone gets what they’re supposed to after someone has passed away, following the rules and guidelines set by the law.

2. Average Timeline of Probate:

The probate process generally spans one year, but complications such as contests, procedural errors, or creditor-related issues can extend this duration significantly.

3. Preventing Probate of Your Estate:

Consult with an estate planning attorney to assess your assets and determine if establishing a trust is necessary to avoid probate after your demise.

4. Executor Responsibilities:

If named as the executor in a loved one’s will, you become a fiduciary. Responsibilities include adhering to procedural rules outlined by the probate court, safeguarding assets for heirs, notifying creditors, and informing relevant government entities before distributing assets to beneficiaries.

How We Help

Our aim is to help you navigate the procedures smoothly, ensuring successful access to the deceased person’s assets, responsible asset management as fiduciaries, and the eventual distribution of remaining assets to the rightful beneficiaries. This comprehensive process involves several key steps, such as:


Preparing and submitting a probate petition along with necessary court documents.

Compiling and documenting assets (including the preparation and filing of an Inventory and Appraisal).

Providing mandatory notifications to beneficiaries, heirs, or next of kin in cases without a will.

Managing communication and payments to creditors, advising on settling estate debts and taxes.

Facilitating the sale of estate assets, including real estate.

Obtaining the necessary court approval for the distribution of assets.


Richard Cornell's main focus is Probate Administration and excels at helping you through the entire process.

Legal Protection

Hiring a skilled lawyer can ensure the rules and guidelines set by the law are followed to avoid costly mistakes.


Probate is a complex process, which is why Richard Cornell's meticulous attention to detail is crucial in a probate lawyer.

Probate FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions About Probate

What Is Probate?

Probate is a legal process that occurs after someone passes away. It involves the court’s supervision of the distribution of the deceased person’s estate, which includes their assets, properties, and possessions. The primary objectives of probate are to validate the deceased person’s will (if one exists), pay any outstanding debts and taxes, and ensure that the remaining assets are appropriately distributed to the designated beneficiaries or heirs.

The court appoints an executor (if named in the will) or an administrator to oversee this process, making sure everything is handled according to the law and the deceased person’s wishes. Probate provides a formalized framework for resolving the deceased person’s financial affairs and transferring their assets to the rightful recipients.

How Do I Know if Probate is Required?

In California, if the value of your property is below $166,500, you might have the option to utilize an affidavit for property transfer instead of undergoing the formal probate process. Nonetheless, it is advisable to consult with a knowledgeable attorney to assess the specific requirements tailored to your needs and assets.

What Happens During the Probate Administration Process?

While every probate case is unique, Executors or Administrators generally share common responsibilities. These include:

Estate Assets: initiating the process of identifying, securing, and assessing the value of the deceased person’s estate assets promptly after their passing. Ensuring the legal transfer of remaining assets to designated beneficiaries or legal heirs is crucial.

Creditors: notifying creditors about the ongoing probate proceedings and thoroughly reviewing any claims submitted by them.

Litigation: In the event of a Will challenge, the Executor or Administrator is responsible for defending the Will through the legal litigation process.

Taxes: the calculation and payment of federal gift and estate taxes, along with the filing of an estate tax return.

Should You Hire a Lawyer?

While the decision is yours, we strongly advise the hiring of an attorney. Given the intricacies of the probate process and the potential for costly errors, many Executors and Administrators opt to seek the assistance of an experienced attorney. Furthermore, if you are a beneficiary seeking to challenge the Will, having legal representation is crucial for navigating the complexities of litigation successfully.

Let us help you!

If you need any help, please feel free to contact us. If you need immediate assistance, you can call us now.

Call : 760.753.0088

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