Probate and Trust Administration Attorneys Help Clients Fulfill their Legal Duties
Experienced Santa Cruz firm guides estate representatives and trustees
At Penrose Chun & Gorman LLP, we have probate and trust administration attorneys who provide experienced and efficient counsel to trustees, estate representatives, and other interested parties in Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, Monterey, and San Benito counties. With over 40 years of experience and a dedicated support staff, we have the capability to assist with the administration of highly complex trusts and estates involving significant assets, numerous beneficiaries — whether individuals or charities — and complex tax issues.
What is probate administration?
Probate refers to the court-supervised process by which a deceased person’s will is proven to be valid and is used to distribute the decedent’s assets to his or her heirs. The purpose of the probate process is to carry out the deceased person’s intentions, confirm who will serve as the personal representative of the decedent’s estate, and protect the interests of creditors with claims against the estate.
What is the probate process in California?
Settling a California estate requires strict adherence to the applicable probate standards and procedures. Estate administration duties that our trusts and estates lawyers handle include:
- Filing and appointment of the personal representative — The probate process starts with filing a petition with the court. From there, the court appoints the executor named in the will or someone else as personal representative for the estate.
- Transmission of letters testamentary — Once the will is admitted to probate, letters testamentary are issued to the personal representative stating that they are legally authorized to act on the estate’s behalf.
- Notice and payment to creditors — Notice must be given to creditors regarding the administration of the estate. This notice provides creditors with four months (or longer in some cases) within which to pursue a claim against the estate.
- Distribution of assets — After all of the assets have been accounted for and appraised, and all debts and taxes of the estate have been paid, the personal representative petitions the court for a final distribution of the estate to the persons entitled according to the decedent’s will or, if there is no will, California’s laws of intestate succession.
It is important to note that the probate process in California takes several months, and the notice and claims period alone can make this timeframe longer, even when no dispute exists over the validity or execution of the will.
How a California probate lawyer helps to settle estate issues
Just as retaining a qualified attorney to create a will benefits testators, an experienced California probate lawyer offers valuable assistance to estate representatives, most of whom are unfamiliar with California probate law. Moreover, administering an estate can be time-consuming while you handle your other work and family responsibilities. Our experienced probate lawyers strive to relieve the burden on estate representatives by explaining what must be done and handling key tasks such as providing notice to beneficiaries, dealing with disputes and representing the estate before the court.
How does a trust impact probate?
Frequently, individuals and families establish trusts so that assets pass to intended beneficiaries outside of the probate process. However, usually the decedent also has a will to cover property that was not placed into a trust. Our extensive experience with trust and estate administration ensures that clients have the legal support they need no matter what legal instruments were created by the deceased individual.
What is involved in trust administration?
When a decedent employs a trust to leave property to their beneficiaries, many critical tasks must be completed when that person dies. Our trust administration attorneys assist with each aspect of this process, including:
- Identification and collection of assets
- Payment of debts and taxes
- Appraisal and inventory of assets within the trust
- Filing of tax returns
- Preparation of documents needed to distribute assets to beneficiaries
After the trust settlor dies, the named successor trustee acts in a fiduciary capacity. As attorneys, our job is to assist successor trustees in carrying out their responsibilities with due care and diligence.
Contact an effective California estate and trust administration lawyer
Serving as an estate representative or trustee is an important responsibility. Penrose Chun & Gorman LLP in Santa Cruz, California advises clients on the legal and practical duties associated with these positions. Please call 831-278-4466 or contact us online.