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Silicon Valley Elder Law, P.C.
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Knowledgeable Probate Guidance And Estate Administration

Probate and estate administration involve the closing and/or administration of the deceased's estate. Depending on the estate, it can be a long and complicated process or relatively simple. Proper estate planning can make the process easier for the decedent's beneficiary and the person named as the executor, trustee or personal representative of the estate.

At Silicon Valley Elder Law, P.C. in San Jose, we have extensive experience guiding executors, trustees and families through the California probate process. Attorney Naomi S. Comfort has dedicated her law practice to elder law and estate planning. She represents families in the Bay Area, as well as people from other states whose family members owned assets in California.

Guiding You Through The California Probate Process

It is an honor to be named the executor of another person's estate. It is also a significant responsibility. You are charged with carrying out the decedent's wishes, as expressed through their will. If there is no will or the will does not name an executor, the court will appoint a personal representative of the estate.

Not all assets need to go through probate. For example, if the deceased person planned their estate using a trust or the estate is worth less than $150,000, no probate is necessary. Certain assets, such as life insurance policies and retirement savings accounts, can be distributed directly to the person named as the beneficiary.

You should always consult an experienced probate lawyer to learn what assets need to go through the California probate process and what your duties are as executor or personal representative. You could be held liable for mistakes.

Steps of probate include:

  • Filing a probate petition with the court
  • Gathering the assets of the decedent
  • Paying taxes and bills
  • Distributing assets as directed by the will or California's law of intestate succession if there is no will

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
  • Providing an 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 comfort to surviving loved ones and reduce the complexity of probate. It can also help avoid disagreements among heirs and beneficiaries.

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