Friday, January 25, 2013

Orange County Probate Lawyer Outlines the Steps of How a Will is Carried Out


A person prepares a will with the objectives of stating explicitly how he will transfer his estate and to whom will parts of his estate go.  The objective of the decedent is to have peace of mind:  When he dies, his estate will be transferred exactly to the beneficiaries he designated.  They will receive exactly the amount and type of estate that the decent stated in his will. (This is, of course, assuming that the court deemed the will as valid.)  A will generally takes effect when a person dies. As an Orange County Probate lawyer I will share with you the process of how a will is carried out.

A will is executed through a process known as probate. The procedure officially begins when the executor designated in the will files a petition in court and seeks his official appointment as the executor of the estate.  He then takes charge of the assets and settles obligations to the creditors. Then, with the approval of the court, the executor begins distributing the rest of the estate to the beneficiaries.  If the estate will be transferred to a childless spouse or registered domestic partner or if the decedent’s estate is valued at less than $150,000.00, the transfer of assets in the probate process will be quite simple.   For estate with higher value, the estate owner may want to consider the services of an estate planning attorney.

The probate process offers some advantages to the beneficiaries.  For one, the probate court has the competence to resolve disputes about the distribution of assets fairly quickly.  It can do these since it is working within well-defined rules.  Moreover, the beneficiaries’ interests are protected since the probate court periodically reviews the executor’s handling of the estate.

The probate process has its disadvantages though, which may offset its advantages.  One such drawback is that it is a matter of public record.  Your estate plan and the value of your assets will become a public record.    Moreover, because the fees of a lawyer and the commission of the executor are set based on a mandated fee schedule, a probate may cost more than if the estate were distributed under a living trust.  In weighing one’s options between a will and a living trust, a person would be well to seek the help of an estate planning lawyer in Orange County.  

Another disadvantage of probate is time.  A probate process usually takes longer than the overseeing of a living trust.  Given the four-month waiting period for creditors to file their claims, a probate may take from 12 to 18 months to close. Other cases where the decedent owns a substantially huge estate or has a complicated marital history may take much longer.   It is important then to consult a probate attorney when planning one’s estate.  You may want to weigh your options between a will and a living trust.  A probate lawyer from Orange County has the track record and expertise in providing you with expert advice.