Orange County Probate Attorney

The loss of a loved one is overwhelming. Grief is a powerful emotion that never goes away. Unfortunately, when a loved one passes away, there are actions you need to take.

What is Probate?

Probate is the legal process that passes assets after death. 

When is Probate Required?

When a person dies with an estate (more than the limit for a Small Probate Affidavit) and they don’t have a will, Probate is required, UNLESS they have a Living Trust (and all their assets funded into their Trust) and all accounts have pay on death beneficiaries or are in joint tenancy.

Probat Lwayer

What is Required for Probate?

There are many steps involved in filing a Probate Petition. These steps include (but are not limited to):

  • Lodging a Will
  • Completing the Petition
  • Publication
  • Notices
  • Inventory and Appraisal
  • Accounting
  • Sales of Real Property
  • Dealing with the other beneficiaries
  • (and the list goes on…)

There are many technicalities involved and every mistake will delay the process, possibly costing the person who is filing money. Typically, Probates take about 2 years before an order allowing the estate to be distributed.

What Does Probate Cost? 

Filing fees and actual costs vary, but typically are between $2,000 and $5,000. Attorneys’ fees in California are set by statute, and the Executor is entitled to the same fee as the attorney.

Here are the Fees:

  • 4% of the first $100,000.00
  • 3% of the next $100,000.00
  • 2% of the next $800,000.00
  • 1% of the next $9,000,000.00
  • ½% of the next $15,000,000.00

What Happens During a California Trust Administration?

When the trust grantor passes away, the trustee will have several responsibilities including:

  • Providing notice to the right parties and authorities.
  • Organizing and gathering important documents.
  • Assessing and accounting for trust assets.
  • Managing federal tax responsibilities.
  • Protecting trust assets and paying applicable debts.
  • Distributing trust assets to the beneficiaries.

Legal Requirements for Probates or Trust Administration

Notify the Beneficiaries: 

  • At the beginning of Probate and Trust administration, California Law requires that ALL  beneficiaries and All the grantor’s heirs are notified. The purpose of the notification is to let these individuals know the status and provide them with an opportunity to contest the Will or trust.
  • Written notices must be sent out to beneficiaries of the Will or trust and the grantor’s heirs within a certain number of days from the grantor’s death. The grantor’s heirs and trust beneficiaries will have a set period from the receiving date to contest the trust.

Organize and Gather Important Documents: 

  • These important documents typically include a copy of the death certificate, the Will or Trust document, and other essential estate planning documents. The executor or trustee will need to organize and gather these and all other necessary documents.

Asset Accounting:

  • If a Probate is filed, the Executor will be required to open the Trust. Assets will remain in the trust when the grantor dies. The trustee will be responsible for protecting this property and ensuring it remains as the grantor devised. During the trust administration, the trustee should conduct an accounting of the assets and trust income. This will include identifying the existing trust property and having it valued. In addition, the trustee must accurately report any income earned by the trust to the IRS.

Medi-Cal Notification:

  • If the decedent was a Medi-Cal (California Medicaid) recipient, the grantor’s executor or the trustee will have a specific number of days from the date of death to file a notice of the grantor’s death with Medi-Cal.

Real Property Notice:

  • The trustee will have a certain number of days after the death to file a Notice of Death of Real Property to effectuate a change in ownership. This notice will be filed with the death certificate. This part of the trust administration process can be complicated, and trustees usually need the help of an attorney.

Real Property Notice:

  • The trustee must also settle the grantor’s debts and liabilities during a California trust administration. This will involve tracking and recording trust deposits and distributions.

Asset Distribution:

  • Once all of the required trust administration tasks are completed, the trustee can distribute the trust assets according to the trust terms.

These are just some of the requirements for a California trust administration. Depending on the trust, the trustee may have other tasks to complete. If you are a trustee, trust administrator, beneficiary, or heir to a California trust, you should consult with an experienced California trust attorney. Your trust lawyer can help you protect your interests and ensure that the trust is properly administered.

Schedule Your Free Consultation Today

What to Do When a Loved One Passes Away

Burial Arrangements:

The first thing that must be done is to make burial arrangements. If your loved one has an Advanced Health Care Directive, their agent is the person who legally makes this decision; otherwise, relatives must agree. If your loved one has not made arrangements, you can ask a friend, family member or clergy for a recommendation. If your loved one was a Veteran, they may be entitled to a burial plot or other benefits. Call the Veteran’s Administration at 800-827-1000 or go to for information.

Who Do I Contact?

It is important to notify various government agencies, banks, creditors and credit reporting agencies of the death. To reduce the risk of identity theft, these notifications should be made promptly after the death.

Who to Notify: 

  • Social Security Administration: 1-800-772-1213 (everyone)
  •  Veterans Administration (if decedent was formerly in the military)
  • Defense Finance and Accounting Service: 1-800-269-5170 (military service retiree)
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service: 1-800-375-5283 (if decedent was not a U.S. citizen)
  •  State Department of Motor Vehicles (if decedent had a driver’s license or state ID)
  • Office of Personnel Management: 1-888-767-6738 (retired or former federal civil service employee)
  • Medi-Cal
  • Franchise Tax Board
  • IRS (if funds are owed)
  • Credit card and merchant card companies
  • Banks, savings & loan associations and credit unions
  • Mortgage companies and lenders
  • Financial planners and stockbrokers
  • Pension providers
  • Life insurers and annuity companies
  • Health, medical and dental insurers
  • Disability insurer
  • Automotive insurer
  • Mutual benefit companies
  • Professional associations and unions
  • Health clubs and athletic clubs
  • Automobile clubs
  • Alumni clubs
  • Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, Veterans organizations and clubs
  • Credit Reporting Agencies:

Schedule Your Free Consultation Today