The Perils Of Do-It-Yourself Probate

People sometimes ask me, "Why can't I just handle probate myself?" I reply, "You can!" California law has no requirement that the probate process be executed by an attorney. What is does require is that creditors be notified within 30 days of the death, that assets be inventoried and appraised, that bills be paid and tax returns filed on time. If you have a job, a family and are grieving the loss of your loved one, that can be an overwhelming responsibility.

Before you decide to go it alone, ask yourself these questions.

Are you:

  • Knowledgeable about the probate law in the State of California?
  • Able to take significant time away from work and family responsibilities?
  • Certain that grief, stress or family dynamics will not impede your ability to make decisions?
  • Comfortable with making appearances before the Superior Court?
  • Confident you can be objective?
  • Confident that you can handle any disputes or complications that may arise?
  • Willing to assume the liability for any errors you might make?

If you answered "no" to some or all of these questions, consider the peace of mind you can gain by entrusting the process to an experienced probate attorney.

Probate can be more complex and time-consuming than many people realize. For a modest percentage of the estate-a fee regulated by California statute-you can delegate this administrative burden to a full-time, experienced professional who will act in your best interest. Most importantly, you'll be free to focus your time and energy on what matters most-your family, your work, and everything else that you enjoy.

A probate attorney, or do-it-yourself? It's your life, and the choice is up to you.

Matthew Yu is an attorney of the Law Office of Matthew C. Yu, located in Torrance, California. His practice emphasizes probate, conservatorships and living trusts. Matthew's clients include businesses, families and individuals throughout Southern California. He can be reached at (310) 986-2364 or by email at: [email protected] .