Wills Lawyer Orange CA
A will is one of the most important documents you can leave behind for your family and friends after your death, and a will lawyer in Orange, California can help you write a will and plan for your future. Read on to learn more about how to plan your estate with the help of a lawyer from Holborn Law, and how you can make your passing easier for your family and friends.
DESIGNATING AN EXECUTOR
If you die without leaving behind a will, the state will designate a representative to handle the division and distribution of your estate. In most cases, this representative is a spouse or an adult child, and sometimes another close relative. However, the state doesn’t know the ins and outs of your relationships with each of your family members, and all too often the responsibility falls on a vindictive or greedy ex-spouse.
Instead of letting the state choose who is in charge of your estate, you can name an executor in your will. Under attorney guidance, you can name a trusted individual to handle the contents of your will and to follow any instructions you’ll leave behind. Unfortunately, your assets aren’t immediately transferred to all of your beneficiaries upon your death: Your executor will have to manage the proceedings and help your family and friends through the probate process.
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR AN EXECUTOR?
Although the process of designating an executor generally isn’t too complicated, there are some requirements that the executor must meet in order to fulfill the role. These two requirements are:
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Be of sound mind (as determined by the court.)
It should be noted that many states bar people with felony convictions from serving as an executor, but such a statute doesn’t exist in California. Additionally, while it is rare it’s also possible that a court may find a delegated executor incapable of handling their duties, either through lack of skills or through neglect or mismanagement. If such an issue arises then the court will hold a formal hearing involving “interested persons” such as family members, heirs, creditors, etc.
WHAT IS THE PROBATE PROCESS?
When you die, your executor needs to handle the division of your assets and your estate. This process is known as probate, and it can be a lengthy and frustrating battle for everyone involved. There are several steps, and at each interval, there’s the possibility for infighting and arguing over what you’ve left behind.
Firstly, your will needs to be sent off to ensure it has satisfied the requirements of the state. The executor needs to notify the beneficiaries that you have died and that the will has been submitted for approval, and before anyone sees a single cent, your assets need to be found and assigned a value. This might mean a fee paid to independent assessors, and even after this step your family and friends aren’t out of the woods.
Once your assets have been tracked down and valued, taxes, fees, and debts need to be paid off. After this essential step, your assets (or whatever’s left of them) can finally be distributed across your beneficiaries. It’s a long process with plenty of room for conflict – all the more reason to get in touch with a wills lawyer in Orange, CA.
HOW LONG DOES THE PROBATE PROCESS TAKE?
Unfortunately, the probate process’s time frame can be very lengthy and may last anywhere from 12 months up to 18 months or even two years. The phase that often takes the longest is tracking down and accounting for all your assets. Even someone who’s well-organized and keeps track of all their belongings may not have every single item accounted for. Many items may even need professional appraisals to determine their inherent worth.
Furthermore, this process can be drawn out even more. Following someone’s passing away, the beneficiaries may need to wait for annual statements from companies that had the decedent’s accounts. Compound these factors with the number of assets and the probate process may take up to two years. In some cases, the process is closer to nine months, but that’s more so the exception and not the rule. Enlisting the help of a wills lawyer in Orange, CA can of course make the process easier and quicker.
WAYS TO MAKE THE PROBATE PROCESS EASIER
The probate process is sure to be a challenging and stressful time for your family and other beneficiaries. Even the most well-adjusted family can experience stress which is quite normal. Whether due to in-fighting related to assets or a lengthy process, stress following a family member’s passing away is to be expected. There are ways to make the probate process easier for your family. The best strategy is to draw up an iron-clad will and to take extra measures. Some methods include:
- Appoint a substitute executor: While your spouse or a beloved family member is bound to be your executor, it’s important to have a substitute executor in case something happens to your main executor.
- Appoint guardians: If you are a single parent and have children under the age of 18 it’s a good idea to appoint a guardian(s). Failure to do so means that the court will decide the guardians of your children.
- Enlist the assistance of a wills lawyer: Although there are plenty of DIY’s will templates available and you may use them as a starting point, enlisting the service of a wills lawyer in Orange, CA will maximize your results and avoid any major complications.
REACH OUT TO HOLBORN LAW TODAY
At Holborn Law, we know that your estate is your legacy, and the last thing you want is to have your legacy tarnished by a complicated and frustrating struggle over all of your assets. Writing a will is only part of a long planning process, and you’ll need legal help if you want to minimize any drama between your family members.
Don’t let your passing be any more painful for your family and friends than it already is. Contact a wills lawyer in Orange, CA and see how Holborn Law can help you plan your estate.