Silicon Valley Elder Law, P.C.
Coupling Experience With Personalized Attention To Help You Meet Your Life Planning Goals. Contact Us And An Attorney Will Call You Back.

Knowledgeable Probate Guidance And Estate Administration

Probate and estate administration involves the closing and/or administration of the deceased's estate. It balances different legal issues and paperwork, federal and state tax laws, family matters, and financial issues. Depending on the estate, it can be a complicated will or trust that encompasses a long list of assets, bank accounts and businesses, but prior planning by the deceased can reduce the complexity and stress on the beneficiaries. Probate specifically addresses a will (or lack thereof), while estate administration addresses matters outside the boundaries of probate and is always used to administer a trust.

At Silicon Valley Elder Law, P.C., we have extensive experience guiding executors, trustees and families through the process of administering or dispersing assets. Naomi S. Comfort has passionately dedicated her legal career to elder law and estate law guidance here in San Jose for 20 years. Her legal background is balanced with the empathetic understanding of what individuals and families are going through after the death of a loved one. A steady and knowledgeable attorney, she can help make a complicated process go more smoothly, particularly when the will or trust is contested or other disputes arise.

What Is Probate?

Probate is the legal process where the will is administered by probate court following the death of an individual (decedent). This happens regardless of whether there is a valid will or not, and can only be avoided by using a trust or if the estate is worth less than $150,000. If a will does not designate someone as executor to administer the estate, probate court assigns a personal representative or administrator.

This person must:

  • File a petition for probate
  • Assemble the decedent's assets
  • Pay bills, including funeral expenses, debts and taxes
  • Collect any outstanding debts
  • Dispense any assets left over

Administrative responsibilities not handled in probate include such assets as joint tenancy property, life insurance proceeds with a beneficiary, stocks and bonds held in beneficiary, retirement plan proceeds, and proceeds from payable upon death accounts.

Trust Administration

The terms of the trust dictate how a trust functions, as either revocable, nonrevocable, special needs, living or another type. Some are small and quickly dissolved, while others include a large amount of assets that provides ongoing income to beneficiaries. The trustee's role is to make sure that the trust follows the rules outlined by its creator. Working with an attorney is advisable to minimize the stress and to ensure that all of a trustee's obligations are properly and legally executed.

This person must fulfill many obligations, including:

  • Notifying each beneficiary and heir by letter with the details of the trust
  • Assembling of real property so it can be managed
  • Collecting other assets
  • Paying all taxes and debts
  • Provide accounting of all actions in service of the trust
  • Managing the allocation and distribution of assets

A Thoughtful Estate Plan Means Less Stress

A thoughtful estate plan can be a tremendous comfort to surviving loved ones, even giving closure with this final thoughtful gesture. If done correctly, it minimizes strain on those who administrate the estate plan, reduces taxes owed and generally helps the process go more smoothly. It can also avoid disagreements among heirs and beneficiaries.

Contact Us To Discuss Your Probate And Estate Administration Concerns

Call our offices in downtown San Jose at 408-883-3244 to schedule an appointment with estate planning lawyer Naomi S. Comfort. We can also be reached through the contact page of this website.

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