With all the red tape associated with probate court, preparing one’s estate to be distributed to beneficiaries can be a complicated task in Joshua Tree. Probate court is a necessary process that serves to determine the legitimacy of a last will and testament, among other things. However, it is not until all the requirements of probate court are satisfied that an estate can be transferred to heirs and beneficiaries. This process can take quite some time and be a bit unnerving to those left to answer to the demands of the court while mourning the loss of their loved one at the same time.
Bochnewich Law Offices — Your Joshua Tree Probate Attorneys
A sound Joshua Tree probate attorney can provide their clients with legal services for estate planning that ultimately make the whole process of probate a lot easier. The most skilled probate lawyer can even potentially keep an estate from having to go through probate court at all in some situations. Thorough and careful estate planning executed prior to one’s passing and with the help of a meticulous lawyer keen on the various facets of estate planning can make the transfer of assets fast and easy for loved ones. Furthermore, in correctly forming legal documents that make up an estate plan, the possibility of probate litigation and/or trust litigation can be significantly minimized.
Bochnewich Law Offices offers solid estate planning services that can help to legally avoid probate court altogether. Our professional and dedicated legal staff and qualified Joshua Tree probate attorneys are experienced in estate planning and successful dealings with probate court. The exceptional reviews from grateful clients serve as proof that at Bochnewich Law Offices, we take pride in our work and customer satisfaction.
What Purposes Does Probate Court Serve in Joshua Tree, CA?
Aside from the prior mentioned validation of wills, probate court is responsible for ensuring bills are paid, estates are properly evaluated, and the correct beneficiaries receive the assets their benefactors intended them to receive. Probate court duties include:
- Determining the legitimacy of a will, if there is a will
- Estimating the worth of the estate
- Determining the beneficiaries in the case that there is a will
- Determining the heirs in the case that there is not a will
- Resolving debts of the estate
- Transferring assets to beneficiaries or heirs
Depending on the details of a case, completing these tasks can take a long time. Hiring a probate attorney, however, can speed up the process.
Other Advantages of Hiring a Joshua Tree Probate Attorney
In addition to potentially avoiding probate court or saving time if court is unavoidable, another advantage to hiring a probate attorney is that there is little chance a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer will make a mistake. Probate court is meticulous for the reason of protecting the rightful owners of assets, and thus, it does not let errors slide. While a probate attorney is unlikely to make a mistake, if an issue does arise, they can act fast based on their past experiences.
How to Avoid Probate Court
The key to avoiding probate court is estate planning. This occurs before an individual passes away. In planning ahead, there are many options available for distributing assets other than using a will. While not all the options are going to work for everyone, here are some common ways people can avoid probate court.
A popular alternative to a last will and testament is a living trust. Also called a revocable trust or inter-vivos trust, a living trust is similar to a will in that it is a legal document that is prepared by a careful probate attorney who is well-versed in state laws. It allows the trustor, the creator of the trust, to transfer ownership of assets to a trust during their lifetime. The trust then holds and manages those assets on their behalf, but after the trustor passes away, the assets are distributed to beneficiaries according to the trustor’s instructions.
A trust allows for more control over the assets it holds because it permits room for definitive actions such as naming a trustee, for instance, to manage the trust in case the trustor becomes unable to do so. Because a trust does not have to go through probate court, assets are transferred much faster and without the cost of court fees. It also is saved from the scrutiny of the courts, so it is a more private way to transfer assets. However, these documents should be carefully crafted so there is little potential for trust litigation in the aftermath of disputes among beneficiaries.
Transfer on Death and Payable on Death
Assets held within accounts that are transferable on death (TOD) or payable on death (POD) transfer directly to the named beneficiary upon the death of the account holder. While POD accounts are mostly life insurance policies, TOD accounts are typically available for a variety of investment accounts, including brokerage accounts, mutual funds, and individual retirement accounts (IRAs). More importantly, they are not required to go through probate court.
By adding one or more joint owner(s) to assets such as cars, boats, houses, or financial accounts, the ownership will automatically transfer to the joint owner(s) in the event one owner passes away. This option should be carefully considered, as it could potentially cause problems with sharing ownership with someone who is not trustworthy.
It is ideal to discuss this and all aforementioned options with a probate lawyer who is well-versed in the laws of probate court to determine which option works for an individual’s unique situation.
Hiring a Well-Informed Joshua Tree Probate Attorney
There are many options for estate planning available, and the ones mentioned here are the most common. More unique and personalized estate plans can be tailored to fit the circumstances of any individual. Bochnewich Law Offices offers individuals and families top-notch estate planning services that can hold up in probate court or avoid probate court altogether. We are also well prepared to represent clients throughout the probate process, should it be necessary. Contact Bochnewich Law Offices to schedule a consultation to discuss the options that make the most sense for your situation.