Our San Mateo probate attorneys at Fox, Shjeflo, Hartley & Babu LLP have substantial experience assisting clients with the probate of wills in California. We provide probate administration and related probate litigation services, as well as comprehensive estate planning.
Our attorneys assist personal representatives, also known as executors, beneficiaries, and others in San Mateo County, Silicon Valley, San Francisco, and throughout the San Francisco Peninsula and Northern California.
What is the California probate process?
In San Mateo and throughout California, probate is a court-supervised process where:
- The final will of a deceased person (decedent) is proved to be valid
- The provisions of the will are given effect
- An executor is appointed
- The decedent’s estate is distributed to named beneficiaries
If the decedent died without a will, then the court will order the estate distributed to the decedent’s next of kin in accordance with California law.
Once a decedent passes away, a trusts and estates attorney can help a beneficiary file a petition of probate with the court for an order that determines the time and place of the decedent’s death and officially appoints the executor. The court then gives creditors, beneficiaries, and others notice and time to file claims against the estate. Sometimes, an estate planning lawyer is needed to track down heirs and give them notice as well.
After the petition is filed, the court then schedules a hearing to resolve any objections to the petition or contests to the will. When a will is upheld, the executor manages all aspects of the estate, including:
- Inventorying assets
- Paying creditors, bills, and taxes
- Managing real property or businesses
- Filing an accounting
Finally, once the executor completes all of his or her duties, often with the guidance of a probate lawyer in San Mateo, the executor files a petition to distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries.
A San Mateo County probate litigation attorney provides guidance
The probate process can be complex and time-consuming, and can take months or even years to complete. When issues are in dispute, the resulting probate litigation can make the process even longer. Examples of common probate disputes include the following:
- Will contests
- Claims of fraud, undue influence or incapacity
- Beneficiary disagreements
- Accounting disputes
- Accusations that the executor has a conflict of interest or has breached his or her fiduciary duty
- Requests to remove an executor
A probate litigation lawyer can ease the burden of protracted probate administration or litigation by offering advice and guidance throughout the process. Our San Francisco estate planning lawyers offer comprehensive assistance that includes advising executors on how to comply with fiduciary duties and representing the interests of beneficiaries or disinherited heirs.