Probate With a Will
What Assets Are Subject to the Will?
Often a decedentA person who has passed away. will have arranged for all their property to be inherited by specific individuals through exceptions to formal probateThe legal proceeding by which a decedent’s testamentary document, such as a will, is proven to be valid, and the subsequent procedure of administering the decedent’s estate. proceedings with the courts. Unless an exception applies, your loved one’s assets will all generally descend through their estateThe assets and liabilities left behind by a decedent.. Common exceptions include property that is held in joint tenancyA form of ownership in which property is jointly owned by two or more persons, and when one joint owner passes away, their ownership interest automatically passes in equal shares to the other joint owners. (e.g., certain real propertyLand and all things which are growing thereon, permanently attached thereto, or permanently erected thereon. Real property also includes easement rights., some bank accounts), property that has a designated beneficiaryA person selected by the owner of an asset, such as a retirement account or an insurance policy, to receive the asset at the time the owner passes away. (e.g., life insurance or retirement accounts), or property that is held in a trustAn arrangement in which property interests are legally held by one person (the trustee) at the request of another (the settlor) for the benefit of a third party (the beneficiary).. Often, a willA legal document which expresses a person’s final wishes about what happens to their property after they pass away, often specifically identifying intended beneficiaries for specific items of property. contains a “pour-over” provision, which designates a trust which the decedent’s assets go to automatically. These exceptions are more common when a person has proactively prepared for their passing by creating a will.
Sometimes, a decedent passes away with few assets, or with most of their assets automatically passing to others through exceptions. If a decedent did not leave real property to their estate and left assets worth less than $150,000.00 to their estate, then they are said to have left a “small estate”. Small estates are also exempt from the formal probate process, even though the terms of the decedent’s will govern what happens to the small estate’s assets.
Many potential issues may arise, even if a decedent had prepared a valid will. Common issues might involve whether a will is valid, who is qualified to serve as the executorA person who is identified in a decedent’s will as the person the decedent wants to become responsible for administering the decedent’s estate according to the terms and instructions of the will. of the estate, whether property belongs to the estate or descends outside of the terms of the will, whether the decedent validly owned certain property in the first place, whether a gift from the decedent during their lifetime was an “advance on a relative’s inheritanceProperty which a person receives from a decedent, whether by the laws of intestacy, a will, or a trust., dealing with the decedent’s creditors, whether an executor violates their duties, and whether the decedent was a victim of elder abuse or homicide.
Contact Our Experienced Probate Litigation Team
Our experienced team of attorneys brings a broad scope of experience to address the potential gamut of issues you may be facing in your probate matter. We strive to provide effective, practical, and timely results. We aim to resolve issues before resorting to litigationLegal proceedings brought before a court to enforce a legal right., if at all possible, in order to save our clients money and to allow all the parties to move forward with their lives on amicable terms. However, when litigation becomes necessary, we will wield the sword of justice to protect your interests and defend your loved one’s legacy.
If your loved one has passed away and you’re feeling overwhelmed, we can help. Every situation is unique, and it is best to discuss your case with an experienced attorney.
Contact us today by calling (888) 308-1261 to schedule your consultation.
California Statutes Regarding Wills (Cal. Prob. Code §§ 6100-6390)
California Statutes Regarding Probate of a Will (Cal. Prob. Code §§ 8200-8272)
California Statutes Regarding Executors (Cal. Prob. Code §§ 8420-8425)
California Statutes Regarding Small Estates (Cal. Prob. Code §§ 13000-13211)
California Statutes Regarding the “Slayer Rule” (Cal. Prob. Code § 250)