Rancho Mirage Practice Areas
Losing a loved one can be extremely emotional and overwhelming in Rancho Mirage, CA. Taking time to process grief is a challenge that demands mental strength and focus. Unfortunately, that need can be complicated by the legal process that follows the death of a loved one. The intricacies of the probate process may mean more difficulty than just processing the death. Whether your loved one left behind a will expressing their final wishes or died before having the chance to create one, the division of their assets could become the center of a long legal battle.
Settling the estate of a loved one is a way to honor and remember them. Although settling their estate can be done without an attorney, the unexpected twists and turns of the legal system, the demands of the beneficiaries, and navigating the assets and debts left behind are best left to the support of an experienced attorney. At Bochnewich Law Offices, our team can provide the support you need to be sure your loved one’s estate is handled correctly and efficiently.
What Is Probate?
Probate is the process of disseminating the assets and belongings of a person who has passed, or is otherwise deemed incompetent, to their heirs and loved ones. These assets can include bank accounts, retirement accounts, investments, homes, and other assets such as real estate. Unfortunately, this process also involves the handling of any accumulated debts. Courts oversee the process, which, depending on the type of probate necessary, could be a long and complicated process with many steps involving a number of individuals.
The court will authorize a person to oversee the wishes of the will or to oversee the assets if there is no will. This person is then responsible for meeting the needs of everyone involved.
How Probate Works
Upon a person’s passing, there are a number of assets and debts that need to be taken care of. The probate process begins with first determining if there is a will and if it is legal. Then, the process could look one of two ways:
- Probate with a will. When a will is left, the person who left the will is known as a testator. Upon this person’s passing, and the will is deemed legal, an executor will be appointed to oversee the probate process. Often, this is a member of the deceased’s family, but it could be anyone that the deceased chose. The court will confirm this person and grant them the legal authority to carry out the will.
- Probate without a will. When a will is not present, or the will that is left is deemed illegal, then the court’s first responsibility is to appoint an administrator of the assets. This person’s responsibilities include tracking down any heirs of the deceased, assessing the debts owed, and working with the court to assign value to any assets left behind. If there are no beneficiaries, then the assets become the property of the state and are handled by the standards of the law.
The Job of a Probate Attorney
Whether you are the executor or administrator of an estate, your first thought may not be to hire a probate attorney. However, an attorney can help you with oversight of the estate and the dissemination of the assets. Their role is to help gather relevant information and help navigate the legal system should complications arise. They will help to create and execute a plan for distribution. Each probate case is unique, and having an attorney that knows the law can help in creating a smooth process. Other responsibilities of a probate attorney include the following:
- Facilitating payment of debts or taxes
- Arranging for tax returns to be filed at both state and federal levels
- Aiding any funeral cost arrangements
- Locating heirs or family members
- Managing the distribution of retirement benefits
- Challenging any probate disputes
- Providing legal counsel for other issues, such as wrongful death claims
Attending Probate Court
The probate court intervenes in the estate dissemination of a deceased or otherwise incapacitated person to be sure that the benefits of their life are not taken for granted. The judge in any probate court will look through the necessary evidence and documentation to help direct the division of assets and debts. Specifically, the probate court seeks to:
- Authenticate the decedent’s will
- Confirm to the person that the decedent wished to handle the inventory and assets of the estate and arrange the payment of any debts
- Anticipate any foreseeable disputes regarding asset distribution
- Distribute any remaining assets as assigned in the decedent’s will
Benefits of a Probate Attorney
Hiring a probate attorney brings with it many benefits beyond a strong partnership. Their first responsibility is to keep the process on the correct legal track, including the handling of any assets and debts. Further benefits include:
- Empowering you to accurately fulfill all of the decedent’s wishes as instructed in their will
- Providing an independent viewpoint from a team experienced in probate.
- Keeping the process on track and bringing it to a full resolution in a timely manner
- Ensuring everything is successfully completed the first time, thus, saving you money
Rancho Mirage Probate Attorney
The death of a loved one is never easy. The grief you may feel can cloud your judgment and create emotional divisions between you and your family. While many issues of probate may be settled without an attorney, there are far more benefits to bringing an attorney onto your team. The process is often filled with many complications and unexpected difficulties. Appeasing the demands of beneficiaries, ensuring the wishes of a loved one are carried out, or working with the state to settle the estate left behind may leave you with more questions than answers. At Bochnewich Law Offices, our knowledgeable and experienced attorneys have the answers to your questions. Our team knows the legal compass needed to navigate the complicated and lengthy probate process. Get the help you need and contact our offices today.