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Santa Clarita Probate Attorney

Serving Valencia and Throughout the Santa Clarita Valley

Losing a loved one is never easy, and dealing with the financial and legal aftermath can be additional stress your family does not need when they are already grieving. At O’Hare Law Office, our mission is to stand with you throughout the probate process, offering our honest advice and compassionate legal care. The relationships we are able to build with our clients is important to us and we work hard to get to know you and your situation to tailor our legal solutions to your family’s needs.

Contact O'Hare Law Office online or call (661) 250-6861 for a free consultation with a probate lawyer.
We serve Santa Clarita Valley and the greater Los Angeles area.

What Is Probate?

In California, probate is triggered when a deceased individual dies intestate, or without an estate plan. Generally, this means the individual did not have a will or any other estate planning documents. However, probate can also happen if the deceased person had a will without any trust administration, especially if the decedent had any real estate property.

Probate can also take place when the heirs of an estate disagree or contest the decedent’s estate documents. The court will then oversee and handle the matter by using California’s laws of succession.

How Can a Santa Clarita Probate Lawyer Help Your Situation?

At O’Hare Law Office, our probate lawyers offer guidance for successor trustees, executors, and beneficiaries going through the probate process in Santa Clarita and the greater Los Angeles area.

This includes helping our clients with the following:

  • Complex court hearings and paperwork
  • Will or trust contests
  • Allegations of mishandling the assets of the estate
  • Paying debts of the estate
  • Distribution of the assets and property of the estate

Assets or property that are owned jointly, or an estate that is governed by a living trust, generally do not have to go through probate, which is why it is important to consult with a lawyer about the values of an estate plan.

What is the Probate Process?

Probate is the process by which the court authenticates the last will and testament of a decedent. This process also involves investigating and determining the value of assets, paying remaining bills and taxes, and distributing the estate to beneficiaries.

There are many steps to the probate process -- they are as follows:

  • The court authenticates the last will and testament.
  • The court appoints an executor or administrator to settle the estate.
  • The executor locates the decedent’s assets.
  • They notify creditors of the decedent's death and pay their debts.
  • They prepare and file final tax returns.
  • They assist in distributing the estate.

Authenticating a will typically involves a court hearing. All beneficiaries and heirs will be notified of the hearing. At the hearing, beneficiaries and heirs will have a chance to contest the will or object to the will going into probate. They may also object to having an executor appointed.

If an executor is appointed, it may or may not be necessary for them to post bond before they receive a letter of testamentary. This is a letter from the court that authorizes them to enter the transaction on behalf of the estate. Bond works like an insurance policy. It will kick in and reimburse the estate in case the executor makes an error that damages the estate financially (and the beneficiaries).

Expect the executor to do a lot of investigation. They will need to locate assets (think real estate property, cars, collectibles, etc.) and review insurance policies, tax returns, etc. It is also the executor’s job to identify and notify all creditors of the decedent’s death as well as ensure that all creditor claims are paid. They have the ability to reject the claims if they have reason to believe they are invalid. Then, they will file the decedent’s final income tax return for the year they died. Estate taxes are also calculated and filed. Finally, the executor petitions the court for permission to distribute what is remaining to the beneficiaries in the will. The court can grant permission only after the executor has submitted proof that they completed every financial transaction per the probate process.

How Long Does Probate Take in California?

The probate process for an estate in the state of California can take as little as nine months. The complexity of the case is what determines the time frame. Usually, on average, it will take a year to a year and a half to complete the probate process. The estate is required to go through probate whether or not the deceased had a will when they passed away. If the value of their assets is less than $150,000 and there is a will, probate is not necessary.

If you are confused trying to figure out if your estate will be required to go through the probate process, we are here to help! Call the O’Hare Law Office, our Santa Clarita probate lawyer has the experience dealing with a variety of probate needs. Call us today for a case review.

Discuss Your Probate Case During a Free Consultation (661) 250-6861

At O’Hare Law Office, every client matters and we offer personalized solutions tailored to your specific situation. Call us at (661) 250-6861 and schedule a free initial case evaluation to learn how our probate attorney can help you and your family. We always provide a comfortable and welcoming environment at our Valencia location so we can have real conversations about the course of action that may be best for your family.

For a free case review, call O'Hare Law Office at (661) 250-6861. Begin resolving your probate matter today.
We are located in Valencia.

Why Turn to O'Hare Law Office?

  • Stress-Free Process

    Our insight and years of estate planning experience afford us the ability to make things easier.

  • An All-Encompassing Solution

    We can help you create a plan that is fully cohesive and in alignment with your best interests.

  • Seasoned Planners

    Our team has a wealth of knowledge to offer for your estate planning matters.

  • Free Consultations

    Discuss all of your options with a professional attorney before taking the next step.