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probate Archives

What goes to probate court upon a person’s death?

You may have heard someone say that something is in probate after a person's death. This refers to the California probate court that handles estates after a person dies. Not everything goes to court, though. According to the Superior Court of California, the court only steps in when it needs to because the law outlines who are heirs to an estate and how estates must be divided. In addition, if the person has a will, it usually is enough to handle the distribution of the estate without a need for it to go to court.

Is your loved one a victim of undue influence?

One common reason why you or a family member in California may dispute the legitimacy of a loved one’s last will and testament is undue influence. It is common practice for people to update their wills periodically throughout their lives. But when a loved one’s estate plans contain radical changes from previous versions, you may start to suspect that their caregiver or a family member used some type of manipulation to gain from their estate. 

Family disputes in probate

Many in California have seen families go through difficult times after a relative dies, and very few things are as painful as family members having disputes over inheritances. Communicating clearly can help prevent family feuds from erupting out of the hurt and sadness that death can uncover.

Understanding probate

Most California residents have probably heard references to probate but may not fully understand exactly what this is or what happens during the probate process. Understanding this is important for anyone looking to make or update an estate plan. It is also important for anyone who may be a beneficiary to another person's estate in California to know what to expect.

How can I avoid probate?

If you are actively involved in estate planning in California, you may be concerned about your estate being subject to probate. Probate is a very long and often expensive process during which your estate is valued and the validity of your will is determined. While it isn’t always possible to avoid probate, the following tips can reduce the chances of it occurring.

Determining testamentary capacity

When a person drafts a will in California, he or she must exhibit his or her testamentary capacity. According to The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, this is the competency to create a will. It demonstrates that at the time the will was written the person was mentally sound. This is important later on when the person dies and the will is executed. Not showing testamentary capacity could mean a contested will and a long legal battle.

Guidelines to Preparing a Legitimate Will

You've probably witnessed a will reading session either through the family or close friends. Either way, not all sessions attain a definitive agreement especially when some beneficiaries object to the last wishes of the decedent. While some conclude into a peaceful agreement, the former highlights the dire situation that needs adequate attention. Probate primarily refers to the valuation and distribution of a decedent's estate. Since most Wills remain unchallenged, this doesn't necessarily mean they are free from error. On the contrary, they can be subjected to intense scrutiny under the following circumstances:

Getting help with your probate problems

The passing of a loved one can be difficult to handle, especially if it was someone to whom you were close. Not only do you have to deal with the emotional aspect of the loss, but it is quite possible that you will play a role in the management of the estate.

Can I challenge a loved one's will?

Raising a challenge to a will is a tall order. In fact, almost all wills go through probate without any snags. That's because the courts see the will as coming directly from the mouth of the decedent. Since they aren't here anymore to let their wishes be known, the will is considered the next closest thing. However, that doesn't mean that every will is 100 percent bulletproof. There are ways to challenge a will and get it voided completely or have a portion struck from it.

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