When a person passes away, his or her survivors will have to handle the administration of the estate.  This includes filing federal and state tax forms on behalf of the estate, as well as transferring title of property to any beneficiaries. In California, the probate court supervises the probate process, which includes the following steps:

  • proving the validity of the will;
  • appointing a legal representative to represent the decedent;
  • itemizing and appraising the decedent's property;
  • paying outstanding debts and taxes, and
  • distributing any remaining property.

Will Contests and Creditor's Claims

Will contests occur when a person is dissatisfied with his or her share of the estate. This may happen when a child discovers that a parent had not updated the will to include a bequest to him or her, or the spouse of the deceased may discover that the decedent has bequeathed all his property to a former spouse.  Additionally, if caretakers or other persons had improperly influenced the deceased to amend a will so that the estate is left to them instead of the deceased's close friends or family members, the natural heirs may contest the will alleging that the amendment was obtained by undue influence or fraud.

If the deceased owes you money, you must file a creditor's claim with the court within the prescribed time limits.  You will have to indicate the amount that the deceased owes you, as well as provide proof supporting the creditor's claim.

Guardianships and Conservatorships

Probate courts also handle guardianships and conservatorships. If a familiy member or close friend is unable to care for themselves or their property, you can establish a conservatorship to ensure the person is properly cared for and his or her property is handled competently.

If a child is orphaned, abandoned, abused or neglected, the court may establish a probate guardianship, in which an adult other than the child's parent is appointed to be responsible for the child's needs, including health care, housing and education. A guardian may also be authorized to manage the child's finances, although a conservator or guardian is sometimes appointed to do this. Even though the court appoints a guardian, the child retains a legal relationship with his or her parents, who are still required to provide financial support.  The child also retains the rights of inheritance.

All of these issues can be complicated. If there has been a death in the family or if you need help with contesting a will, filing a creditor's claims, or seeking the appointment of a guardian or conservators, contact our law offices to discuss the situation and your available options.

To set up a free consultation, contact us online or call us at (916) 525-9455.