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Experienced Attorneys Guiding You Through The California Probate Process

Probate refers to a legal process for the orderly transfer of legal ownership of an individual’s assets upon their demise. It encompasses a series of intricately defined steps and technical regulations, occasionally necessitating multiple appearances in court. The probate procedure encompasses the transfer of property and assets, the settlement of estate debts, and the notification to beneficiaries and other state entities. Additionally, probate courts serve as the forum for the resolution of disputes related to wills, trusts, and fiduciary matters concerning the estate.

Johnston, Kinney & Zulaica LLP, situated in San Francisco, is dedicated to representing personal representatives or executors of estates throughout California during the probate process, as well as serving the interests of beneficiaries and other stakeholders. Our legal team possesses the requisite expertise to manage all aspects of the process, ranging from initiating the probate petition and assembling probate documentation to overseeing probate hearings and resolving disputes and litigation arising from probate matters.

Costs Of A Probate

The fees associated with legal representation and other probate-related expenses are established by statutory regulations. Compensation for the personal representative of the estate and our fees for Ordinary Services are determined based on the overall value of the accounted estate, encompassing all inventoried and appraised assets, along with all receipts and gains exceeding the appraised value of sold assets. This calculation adheres to the statutory compensation schedule outlined in the California Probate Code, which is currently as follows:

  • 4% on the initial $100,000;
  • 3% on the subsequent $100,000;
  • 2% on the subsequent $800,000;
  • 1% on the subsequent $9,000,000;
  • 1/2% on the subsequent $15,000,000; and
  • A reasonable fee on amounts exceeding $25,000,000.

In addition to the statutory compensation above, the court may allow compensation for extraordinary services. Compensation for extraordinary services is billed generally based on hourly rates. The court has the authority to approve a petition for payment of fees for extraordinary services, taking into consideration the size and complexity of the matter, the achieved outcomes, and the ultimate benefit conferred upon the estate.

Do All Estates Go Through Probate In California?

No. It is essential to recognize that not all estates in California are subject to probate proceedings. Small estates that lack real property can be transferred through a small estate affidavit without the necessity of a formal probate process. Moreover, if the deceased individual established a trust that encompassed all of their assets, those assets need not pass through probate. However, estates exceeding the state-defined threshold for a small estate and lacking a trust, or those where not all assets are held within the trust, will necessitate probate.

Probate Is Required With Or Without A Will

Whether the decedent left a will or passed away intestate, the probate process remains obligatory. In cases where a will exists, assets will be distributed in accordance with the decedent’s documented wishes. Conversely, in situations where no will exists, asset distribution will follow the guidelines outlined in California probate law.

Overcoming Probate Disputes

Throughout the probate process, disputes may manifest in various forms. Parties may file objections to a petition for probate for a multitude of reasons, which may include issues regarding the validity of the will or alleged mishandling of the estate. Additionally, claims from creditors, such as those from the IRS or credit card companies, may emerge and lead to disputes during the estate probate.

Meet With Our Experienced San Francisco Probate Lawyers

Securing sound legal counsel at the outset of the probate process often expedites proceedings while offering crucial support. To discuss your probate concerns and explore viable solutions, we invite you to contact our experienced legal team at 415-527-0788 or send us an email.