For delicate legal matters like estate planning, wills, and trusts in the fast-paced Fullerton, CA, area, choosing to work with a Fullerton probate lawyer who has integrity and a reputation for success can be one key to protecting your interests and your family’s future. This can be especially true when a beloved family provider passes, and the assets that your family depends on must enter the probate process.
When these sensitive issues are further complicated by matters like litigation or guardianship disputes, you may rapidly find yourself in need of seasoned lawyers. They can guide you through challenges and uncertainties with equal parts personal compassion and powerful, assertive legal advocacy.
Even routine and straightforward estate planning matters can benefit immensely from the touch of a talented legal team. One example would be drafting a great last will and testament to keep your estate and family protected from a tedious and uncertain probate process.
Sakamoto & Ruelas, APC, can offer you this high level of legal service. Our women-owned law firm has built a unique legal brand that combines high-end legal solutions with a friendly, approachable service model. Our team works to put our clients at ease and increase their confidence as we move forward in a collaborative and proactive way to address their estate planning needs.
Partners Sophia Kim Sakamoto and Stephanie L. Ruelas boast over a quarter-century of combined law experience, and they are ready to put it to work addressing the vast and varied estate planning needs of Fullerton residents. Sakamoto & Ruelas, APC, is available to offer high-quality assistance, whether you’re:
California’s probate courts, just like other areas of the state’s legal system, can become an arena for intricate and complicated matters to get worked out. In California and other states, probate is a special legal process through which the assets of someone who has recently passed away are identified, inventoried, and distributed to heirs and/or beneficiaries.
Probate ensures that any outstanding debts or taxes against the decedent’s estate are settled and that any remaining value gets allocated correctly, either per the wishes set forth in the decedent’s will or, in the absence of a will, per California’s intestacy laws.
Some key facts about the California probate process you’ll want to keep in mind include:
Dealing with the complex steps of the probate process in California can be overwhelming, especially during an already challenging time while you’re still healing from the loss of a beloved family member. The aid of a seasoned probate attorney can help you gain clarity and confidence as you move ahead with sorting these important matters.
A: No, as with any other legal matter, you are free as an American to represent yourself in a court of law. However, it’s important not to underestimate the complexity and potential for difficult challenges when entering into a probate case, especially if family disputes or litigation scenarios arise.
For estates with straightforward assets and clear beneficiary designations, some individuals might be able to manage the process without outside legal assistance. Most people will find that working with a quality lawyer makes the process significantly easier and less stressful, however.
The quality legal team at Sakamoto & Ruelas, APC, can guide you through the probate process, including helping you find effective strategies to overcome any unexpected issues that arise.
A: In many cases, the cost of a probate lawyer can be paid from the estate’s assets. In California, both an executor and probate attorney are entitled to charge fees, which are set by state law and based on the gross fair market value of the property and financial instruments that the decedent leaves behind. These fees are taken from the estate before the remaining assets are distributed to creditors, heirs, and beneficiaries.
If you hire personal representation in a probate case, you will be responsible for any fees paid to your private legal counsel. However, seasoned legal advice from an experienced probate attorney can help you more effectively resolve your dispute, potentially leaving you with more money or assets than you would otherwise.
A: The cost of most types of legal services can vary wildly from case to case based on factors such as local market conditions, total time spent in court, and your lawyer’s popularity. However, the cost of probate fees in California is determined by statute, with fees calculated as a percentage of the estate’s gross value (determined by an appraisal process overseen by the probate court).
The fee structure is based on a sliding scale, where the first $100,000 in estate value is “taxed” more heavily than the rest of the estate, with 4% being the highest rate. The team at Sakamoto & Ruelas, APC, can help you learn more about this fee structure.
A: Yes and no. While probate is indeed made mandatory by law, not every estate is required to go into probate in California. This will depend primarily on the total value of the assets involved. In 2023, for example, the threshold for estates to enter probate is $184,500. Any estates valued under this threshold can be settled through a simplified (and quicker) process.
If you don’t know whether your recently deceased loved one’s estate needs to go into probate, or if you are unsure how to begin the probate process, the probate law team at Sakamoto & Ruelas, APC, can help you take the first steps.
In the confusing and ever-evolving world of California probate law, having a trusted advisor by your side can prove invaluable for overcoming any number of challenges or unexpected scenarios. Sakamoto & Ruelas, APC, is dedicated to staying on top of the latest in probate law. Coupled with their deep-rooted commitment to their clients and the local community, this makes them the smart choice for Fullerton residents with probate questions. Contact a member of our friendly and knowledgeable staff today for a no-pressure consultation.