Probate is the court process of transferring the property of someone who has died to their heirs or beneficiaries. Since it occurs after someone has died, it is a process that often a grieving family member must endure. We never lose sight of the fact that at the beginning of every probate case is the ending of a life. That is why we take every effort to make probate as easy as possible on survivors. There is information to gather, documents to file, and waits to endure before the court authorizes the distribution of assets. We find that the best way for clients to manage this is to educate them and keep them informed.
At our office, we think of probate as comprised of four (4) phases. This helps our clients understand what to expect and how to manage each step:
1. PHASE ONE – INITIAL APPOINTMENT | 0 – 45 days
The personal representative (called “executor” when there is a will) is the individual appointed to manage the estate. We schedule an initial appointment to review the assets and heirs of the decedent and advise on how probate proceeds. Personal representatives are assigned tasks to find information necessary for completing the probate petition.
We then file the petition with the court on your behalf. Once filed, the court sets a hearing date where it decides whether to approve our request under your petition. Our office has a 100% approval rate for probate petitions.
2. PHASE TWO – INVENTORY AND APPRAISAL | 0 – 120 DAYs
3. PHASE THREE – CREDITORS’ CLAIMS | 0 – 120 Days
Probate creates a process for creditors to submit claims against a deceased person’s estate. Any medical expenses arising from a final illness are addressed at this time as well as any burial or cremation expenses. Other creditors including mortgage holders, credit cards, car loans or past-due utilities may also file claims.There are very specific laws surrounding the method for creditors to submit their claims.
Creditors failing to follow the law by properly filing a claim against the estate may not receive payment. We take great care reviewing creditor claims to ensure that undeserving claims are not compensated which results in larger distributions to our clients and their families.
4. PHASE FOUR – FINAL DISTRIBUTION | 120+ DAYS
The Law Office of Lauren N. Peebles offers two distinct advantages when it comes to probate administration. One, we focus exclusively on probate and estate planning so we do not split our time on other practice areas like criminal defense or family law, for example. This means we are intimately familiar with the probate process. We have helped countless families through the process. If we anticipate any challenges along the way, we will inform you of them so you are not caught off guard. We will plan ahead to avoid them as much as possible but if they do arise, you will know you can count on us.
Second, we communicate with you regularly. We use software that makes document review easier and allows you to check on your case at any time. Since many people are managing grief while also facing the probate process, this can be reassuring. It is one way we take a compassionate approach to the practice of law. You never have to worry about us leaving you in the dark.
The Law Office of Lauren N. Peebles is located in downtown Oakland and serves the East Bay and San Francisco Bay areas. We can manage a probate case for you even if we did not draft the original will. Contact our office today to schedule your initial consultation.