Your San Diego Probate Lawyer
When a loved one's estate goes into probate, it can be a complicated and challenging process that is difficult to navigate alone. The rules are complex and emotions often run high. Our experienced San Diego probate attorneys can help move things along efficiently, resolve issues in a fair manner, and hopefully avoid conflicts altogether.
What is Probate?
Probate is the formal judicial process in which a court determines how a person's assets will be distributed after they die. A court may need to appoint a personal representative for the estate, determine the authenticity of the will (if there is one), determine the assets of the estate, and/or the identity of the heirs. In California, probate is generally required if the estate's value exceeds $166,250.
How Does Probate Work?
The court supervises the entire administration of the Decedent’s estate, including identifying and marshalling assets, paying taxes and debts, and distributing the balance to the beneficiaries/heirs. A probate case is usually initiated by the person named in the decedent’s will to serve as executor, or other person who wants to be the representative of the estate. There are notice requirements and publication requirements to ensure potential heirs are notified and creditors' claims are settled. The court then decides how all of the assets should be distributed and gives the personal representative the requisite legal authority to act on behalf of the estate.
Why Choose Brierton, Jones, & Jones
Marked by Integrity
A reputation for professional excellence built up over 30 years of practice in San Diego.
Driven by Excellence
Award-winning attorneys with decades of experience resolving 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 focus on problem solving to efficiently resolve cases.
Our clients and their families return to us generation after generation.
Our attorneys have been actively involved in the local community from the firm’s inception.
Probate Terms to Know
Executor – The personal representative appointed by the court to administer the estate when the deceased person dies with a will, usually named in the will.
Bond – Issued by a third-party company and protects beneficiaries, heirs, and/or creditors from a personal representative who fails to properly perform his/her duties.
Administrator – The personal representative appointed by the court to administer the estate when the deceased person dies without a will or if the executor named in decedent’s will cannot carry out these duties.
Assets – A decedent’s property, including bank accounts, real estate, stocks, bonds, cars, furniture, jewelry, and other personal belongings.
Beneficiary – An individual or entity to whom a donative transfer of property is made, generally named in the will and/or trust.
Bequest – Traditionally, a gift of property given by a will. Bequest, legacy and devise are frequently used today to refer to a transfer of property made by a will.
Creditor – An individual or entity who may have a legal claim against estate property.
Decedent – A person who has died.
Estate – All property owned by decedent at death, including real property and personal property. All estate assets are collected and managed by the personal representative during probate.
Heir – An individual or entity to whom a donative transfer of property is made as it relates to intestate succession (no will).
Issue – The lineal descendants of the decedent such as children or grandchildren.
Letters – “Letters” refer to a Judicial Council form (DE-150) that is issued by the Court 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 prior to issuance of Letters.
Personal Representative – A personal representative of an estate is a general term that refers to an executor or an administrator appointed by the court.
Consult a Probate Lawyer
Whether you are the representative of an estate or a potential beneficiary, it is crucial to have experienced legal counsel to advocate for you. Contact us today for a consultation.