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You've Recently Lost a Loved One, Now What?

After the death of a loved one, you and your family face a unique set of challenges—and dealing with the California probate court is not only costly, but stressful.

Probate is a legal process to finalize and administer a loved one’s estate after death. Your family must work closely with the Superior Court in the County where your loved one died to:

  • Determine the validity of the will(s)
  • Identify and inventory the deceased’s property
  • Appraise the property
  • Pay your loved one’s debts and taxes; and
  • Distribute the remaining property according to the will or according to state law in the absence of a will

Probate can be overwhelming and frustrating, but the purpose of it is to ensure a valid transfer of assets and payment of creditors. Because your loved one is unable to “sign on the dotted line” regarding transferring assets, the court must appoint and give authority to someone (the executor/administrator) to handle this responsibility and close out the estate.

Do I Need an Attorney to File Probate?

Because probate is such a time consuming, costly and complicated process, you should seek the help of an experienced probate attorney.

Probate is a highly technical process filled with deadlines. Even small mistakes can delay the entire process. A skilled attorney will help ensure that all legal obligations are met and help speed up the overall process. Working with an attorney will also help you to minimize costs commonly associated with oversights, tax problems and long drawn-out claims.

Can I Avoid Probate?

If your loved one died with a trust in place, it may be possible to avoid the probate process, so long as the trust is up-to-date and your loved one’s assets are properly owned by the trust.

The trust can be administered privately with the help of an experienced trust administration attorney. If the trust was not properly funded (meaning assets were not titled in the name of the trust) you may still need to go through probate.

Every Estate Administration is different for the simple reason that every estate is different. Steps for administration include:

  • Detecting the presence or absence of an estate plan
  • Identifying the composition of the estate assets
  • Determining how those assets are owned
  • Identifying and locating beneficiaries
  • Identifying and paying the decedent’s creditors
  • Distribution of assets  

Unfortunately, in many cases the assets are not owned in the best way and beneficiary designations are out-of-date or missing resulting in the probate process.

At the Chubb Law Firm, every estate administration begins with an analysis of the assets and identification of the steps needed to complete the administration.  

Our full-service approach is designed to minimize headaches, efficiently transfer any assets and ensure all legal requirements are satisfied within the appropriate deadlines.

All of this is done with love and compassion during a difficult time.

How to Get Help

If you have lost a loved one and must begin the process of closing out his or her final affairs, please give The Chubb Law Firm a call at 916.241.9661.

Our law firm serves families going through probate in Sacramento, Placer and El Dorado Counties. We will sit down with you and/or your family to discuss the next steps to help you move through probate in a timely and cost-effective way.

We look forward to helping your family!

Action Steps to Take Immediately After a Loss

How to obtain a death certificate in Sacramento County

How to notify Social Security of your loved one’s passing

Secure all property after the loss of a loved one

How to find out if employer death benefits are available

How to find my loved one’s insurance benefits and retirement accounts

Free Resources


My wife and I have some quite large complexities both in our individual preferences and the construct of our life. When planning for our trust, Heather took the time to hear EVERYTHING we said. The trust which Heather formed for our family took all our concerns into account. When everything was said and done, we received a trust which, by design, is extremely personal to our circumstance. We also are delighted to have Heather to be part of our team of advocates to help when the time comes.

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