Age With Confidence And Grace

Answering Your Questions About Probate And Trusts

One fear most people have when it comes to resolving the estate of a loved one is probate. Probate law has a – not entirely undeserved – reputation for being complicated, emotionally draining legal and costly situations. However, minimizing the stress and difficulties you experience in probate is possible.

At my firm, The Law Office of Philip M. Flanigan, P.C., I work diligently for clients throughout California to resolve their difficulties in probate law. When you have a probate issue, you may be in a highly vulnerable legal position, but I am a guide for clients in probate and trust administration. I want to educate you on what is ahead, so you can have the confidence to move forward.

What is probate?

Probate in California is the court process where a person’s final affairs are settled through an administrative, legal process. Among the many tasks, the probate court must:

  • Validate the will
  • Settle the debts of the deceased
  • Confirm the personal representative
  • Oversee distribution of the estate assets

Probate court is complex, costly and time-consuming, but I am methodical and meticulous in pursuing my client’s goals.

Can I avoid probate?

Every estate will go through potentially probate, but not every asset will. Certain important assets such as life insurance policies, trusts and joint accounts – with right of survivorship – do not undergo a probate process.

If your estate plan is comprehensive enough, you may be able to assign many assets to a trust and avoid probate for much of it.

What is a trust?

A trust functions similarly to a will in that you can provide directives and guidance for your heirs. However, upon your passing, a trust is a legal entity – not a document. When you assign assets to a trust, the trust dictates who has the authority to deal with them. Because there are always persons who can sign for the trust, assets owned in the name of the trust do not go through probate. It is a powerful vehicle for dispersing assets to heirs.

How long does probate take?

In California, the law dictates that the personal representative ordinarily has one year to complete probate, once appointed. There are some circumstances where they can have up to 18 months. However, if there is a dispute or a will contest, the process can take much longer.

Answering Your Questions, Pursuing Your Goals

I have more than 30 years of experience handling all matters of probate and trust administration. These matters are complicated, but my service isn’t. I try to take on your legal troubles and resolve them quickly, efficiently and compassionately.

Call me at 559-282-0232 or send me an email to schedule a meeting.