San Diego Probate Attorney
Probate can be quite challenging—the rules are complex, and emotions often run high. Don’t go it alone. Our experienced probate attorneys will move it along efficiently, resolve issues fairly, and work to avoid conflicts.
What You Need To Know About Probate
Probate is a judicial process where a court reviews the assets of a deceased person, determines who the inheritors are, and orders how those assets will be distributed. It can take up to a year to complete.
Is Probate Required?
Each state has its own probate requirements. Here in California, probate is generally required if the estate’s value exceeds $166,250.
How Does It Work if You Have a Will?
The executor you’ve named to handle your estate is responsible for initiating probate with the court upon your death. First, the court will authenticate your will, and then your chosen executor is granted legal power to act on your behalf to complete obligations and fulfill your wishes.
How Does It Work if You Don’t Have a Will?
The court appoints an administrator to handle the probate process and distribute your assets according to state law. The administrator will attempt to locate legal heirs so the property can be divided amongst them. In most cases, the heirs are your surviving spouse and your children.
Understanding the Terminology
If you find yourself involved in the probate process, here are some of the common terms to familiarize yourself with:
An administrator is a personal representative appointed by the court to administer an estate when someone dies without a will or if the executor named in the decedent’s will cannot carry out their duties.
Assets are a decedent’s property, including bank accounts, real estate, stocks, bonds, cars, furniture, jewelry, and other personal belongings.
A beneficiary is an individual or entity to whom a donative transfer of property is made. Beneficiaries are typically named in a will and/or trust.
The term 'bequest' refers to a gift of property as instructed in a will. Other terms that refer to the transfer of property by a will include legacy and devise.
Bonds, issued by a third-party company, protect beneficiaries, heirs, and/or creditors from a personal representative who fails to perform their duties properly.
A creditor is an individual or entity who may have a legal claim against the estate’s property.
A decedent is a person who has passed away.
The term ‘estate’ refers to all property owned by the decedent at their death, including real property and personal property. All estate assets are collected and managed by the personal representative during probate.
An executor is a personal representative appointed by the court to administer an estate when someone dies with a will. The executor is usually named in the will.
An heir is an individual or entity legally entitled to the assets of someone who has passed away.
The term 'issue' refers to the lineal descendants of the decedent, such as their children or grandchildren.
“Letters” refer to a Judicial Council form (DE-150) that the Court issues after an Executor or Administrator is appointed. Letters are used by the Personal Representative to obtain possession of estate assets and to open estate bank accounts. Letters also indicate that the personal representative is authorized to act on behalf of the estate. Filing of a bond is often required before the issuance of Letters.
A personal representative is a general term that refers to an executor or an administrator appointed by the court.
- Estate Planning
- Trust Administration
- Special Needs Trust
- Probate Litigation
- Trust Litigation
- Trust & Estate Mediation
- Property Transfers
- Estate Tax Returns
- Agent Representation
When you need a San Diego estate planning attorney to help you put everything in order, Brierton, Jones & Jones, LLP is here for you.
Marked by Integrity
Over 30 years of practice in San Diego County and a reputation for professional excellence.
Driven By Excellence
Award-winning attorneys who resolve even the most complicated issues and cases.
One of the few San Diego firms that focuses exclusively on trust and estate matters.
Creative Problem Solving
A team that thinks outside the box to find the best solution to your problem.
Our clients and their families return to us generation after generation.
Our attorneys are actively involved in the local community and have been for over 30 years.
Our Clients Say It Best
I had the pleasure of working with Hilary Vrem during a family probate case. It was a difficult time for me as I was dealing with a loss in the family and needed assistance tackling the legal process. She provided me with a clear understanding of what to expect and guided me through my best options and next steps. She went above and beyond throughout our correspondence. I would happily recommend BJJ, their attorneys, and Hilary to friends and family who are dealing with a similar situation.
Let Us Represent You
Whether you’re the representative of an estate or a potential beneficiary, you’ll want experienced legal counsel by your side. The San Diego probate attorneys at Brierton, Jones & Jones, LLP are here for you.