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Modern Estate Planning Blog

Elder Law & Special Needs Planning

What Does a Probate Lawyer in Sacramento Do?

July 8, 2013

Oftentimes, a person isn’t even aware of what a probate lawyer in Sacramento does until he or she is in need of one. Of course, it is a great idea to hire a probate lawyer, often called an estate planning lawyer,  before you actually “need” his or her services so that things can go as smoothly as possible when it comes to taking an estate through the probate process. Unfortunately, that’s not always how it works. It’s very common to go looking for a probate lawyer in Sacramento once a loved one has passed and help is needed immediately.

The Probate Process

The Sacramento probate lawyer’s job is to offer assistance to the executor, also called the administrator or personal representative, as an estate passes through the court system in order for it to be distributed properly. Probate, particularly in California, is very technical and time-consuming and it is easy to make mistakes. There are several steps that the court must go through to close an estate, and the attorney’s job is to make sure everything is initiated and followed through on as these steps are being followed.

Some of the basics of probate include:

  • Validating the will
  • Creating an inventory of assets
  • Getting appropriate appraisals for assets
  • Creating a list of debts
  • Paying debts
  • Dispersing the remaining property according to the will

If there is no will, the estate is said to be “intestate,” and the court will have even more say in what becomes of the decedent’s property.

When You Need a Probate Lawyer in Sacramento

Not every estate needs a probate lawyer. Some Sacramento families have placed their assets into trusts that actually don’t go through the probate process, for example. Additionally, some wills are very simple and easy to execute, say as in a case where there are little to no debts and common property is left to a surviving spouse alone.

In most other cases, however, hiring a probate lawyer in Sacramento will simplify the process for all involved and will most likely save the estate a fair amount of money, time and frustration. That is because the attorney will be able to implement strategies to help lower the amount of taxes that need to be paid.

He or she can also become an objective outside party who can act as the executor of the will in situations where family tensions run high. Along those same lines, if someone with a legal financial interest in the estate wants to contest the will, it makes sense to have a probate attorney working to make sure the decedent’s wishes are carried out to the best of the court’s ability.

Finally, it can be a good idea to get a probate lawyer involved in cases where an individual has a terminal illness. The attorney can help to get affairs in order by drawing up a will and understanding first-hand what it is that the person wants for the estate.

What the Sacramento Probate Lawyer Will Do

There are many, many tasks that the Sacramento probate lawyer will perform on behalf of the estate.

  • Filing documents with the court
  • Creating lists of assets
  • Place legal notices in newspapers
  • Contact creditors
  • Make sure taxes are paid on the estate

A Sacramento probate lawyer must keep current on relevant laws as they change and will work to help clients and heirs follow all of the right procedures while doing their best to protect their interests.

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A wonderful job! After watching my family deal with litigation after a death, this is so important for everyone, young and old.

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