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Frequently Asked Questions: Probate

Answers from a Certified Specialist in California Probate Law

The probate process can present a number of complications that can be difficult to resolve. Fortunately, Sterzer & Associates, A Law Corporation can help guide you through the issues and explain your options. Brian Sterzer has more than 20 years of experience and is certified by the California State Bar as a probate specialist, so you can be confident in his extensive abilities. Please keep reading or call the firm to get your questions answered!

What is probate?

Probate is the court process in which, among other things, a decedent's debts are paid and assets are transferred to the heirs or, if there is a will, to the beneficiaries named in the will. First, a petition for probate must be filed and, if there is a will, it must be proved valid to the court. The hearing on the petition for probate is usually 6 to 8 weeks after the petition is filed. If the petition is approved then the estate's executor can take control of the assets, prepare an inventory and appraisal, send required notices, pay creditors and perform all other requirements of probate. At the end of the process a final report and accounting must be filed with the court, along with a petition for final distribution. When the report, accounting and petition for final distribution are approved, the remaining assets are transferred to the heirs or named beneficiaries.

How long will the probate process take in California?

Every estate is different, so there is no set length of time; however, estates without complications usually take around 8-12 months. Four of those months are required to give creditors time to make a claim. If there are issues like a will contest, then the process could take much longer.

How much will a probate attorney cost?

Attorney fees in California are dictated by CA Probate Code § 10810-10811. Currently, the statutory compensation paid to probate attorneys in California is based on a percentage of the gross estate value, as follows:

  • 4% of the first 100,000 dollars
  • 3% of the next 100,000 dollars
  • 2% of the next 800,000 dollars
  • 1% of the next 9,000,000 dollars

Where does probate happen?

Probate happens in the superior court of the county in which the decedent lived at death. Each county has its own "probate" department of the superior court, where all probate matters for the county are handled. In Orange County, all probate cases are handled at the Central Justice Center, located at 700 W. Civic Center Drive, Santa Ana, CA 92701. At Sterzer & Associates, A Law Corporation, we also handle probates in the surrounding counties, including Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura counties.

Contact Sterzer & Associates, A Law Corporation

Have more questions about your probate case? California probate law is confusing, so obtain wise counsel from a Huntington Beach probate lawyer at Sterzer & Associates, A Law Corporation. We have the experience and training you need on your side! Contact us now.

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