Los Angeles Probate Attorney

Probate Law: What to Know

When a family member or a close friend dies without their assets being held in a trust, their estate must go through a legal process known as probate to be divided and distributed among their heirs. This process is lengthy, expensive, public, and can be complex, so it is essential to understand the basics of probate law.

If you are named as the executor of a will or have a loved one who passed away without any estate planning documents, it is essential to understand the basics of probate law. This post will outline the critical aspects of probate law to help you navigate the process.

 We will introduce you to the basics of probate law. We’ll explain what probate is and how it works and discuss the most common estate planning tools. We’ll also provide a few tips for dealing with probate.

What Does Probate Entail?

Probate is a legal process that occurs after a person dies. Probate is a court supervised process which aims to identify and inventory the deceased person’s assets, pay any bills and taxes, and distribute the assets to the beneficiaries named in the will or the person’s legal heirs if they did not have a will.

The probate process is lengthy, public and costly, so it’s essential to plan for death by creating a a trust based estate plan. If you have questions about probate or want more information, contact an attorney specializing in estate law.

What Assets Are Subject to Probate?

Not everything in your estate is subject to probate. Probate does not apply to assets that are held in joint tenancy or in a financial account with pay on death beneficiaries.

For example, if you have a life insurance policy with a named beneficiary, the proceeds will go directly to that person and will not be subject to probate. However, if you name a beneficiary and that person passes away before you, then the life insurance policy would be subject to probate.

Who Manages the Probate Process?

The executor of the will oversees carrying out the terms of the will, including handling the probate process. If no executor is named in the will, or the executor cannot carry out their duties, then the court will appoint an administrator to manage the probate. This person is usually a child of the deceased person or another loved one.

How Long Is the Probate Process?

The probate process can take anywhere from nine months to a few years, depending on the complexity of the estate and the number of parties involved..

Once the executor marshals all of the decedent’s assets and pays all of the estates debts and taxes, the executor will file a final report with the court, closing the estate. In most cases, beneficiaries will receive their inheritance within a few months of completing the estate. However, the process can take much longer in complex estates or those that are disputed.

How Much Does Probate Cost?

One of the most common questions people have about probate is how much it costs. Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer, as the cost of probate can vary depending on the size and complexity of the estate. In most cases, you can expect to pay between 2-5% of the estate’s value in legal fees and 2-5% of the estate’s value to the executor or administrator for their work.

Other costs may be associated with probates, such as filing court papers, appraisers’, and accountant’s fees. It’s essential to speak with an attorney to understand how much probate will cost in your specific case.

What Are the Benefits of Probate?

After someone passes away without a trust-based estate plan, their assets and estate must undergo the probate process and while this process is length, public and expensive, there are a couple of benefits, including:


  • The assets are protected from being mismanaged or squandered
  • A neutral third party oversees the process

Hiring a Probate Lawyer

When it comes to probate law, choosing the right lawyer can make all the difference. But with so many lawyers out there, how can you know whom to trust?

Here are a few tips to help you choose the right probate lawyer:

  1. Ask around. Family and friends are a great source of referrals for reliable lawyers.
  2. Do your research. Read reviews online and ask if anyone has had a good experience with a particular lawyer.
  3. Meet with several lawyers. Talk to several lawyers before deciding, so you can get a feel for their style and expertise.
  4. Choose a lawyer who is licensed in your state. Each state has different laws regarding probate, so it is essential to choose a lawyer familiar with your state’s regulations. You should also ensure the lawyer has practiced in that specific legal area.
  5. Ensure the lawyer you retain listens to your concerns and does not ask for upfront payments, besides a retainer for court fees, which would be unethical and violation of the California Probate Code.

Contact Law Offices of Michael K. Lanning, APLC

When somebody passes away without a trust based estate plan, their estate goes through a legal process called probate. This legal process can be quite complex, lengthy, public, and expensive as it determines how the deceased’s property is divided and distributed. It is almost impossible to go through this process without the assistance of an experience probate lawyer to ensure it is handled smoothly.

At Law Offices of Michael K. Lanning, APLC we have attorneys who are qualified and experienced to handle probate cases. We understand the importance of fulfilling your loved one’s final wishes and work tirelessly to do so. We serve the West Los Angeles, Pacific Palisades, South Bay and Beverly Hills areas. Contact us at 310-820-1600 or send a message to [email protected] to book an appointment.

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Los Angeles Probate Attorney

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