Posted on

Santa Clarita Probate Attorney: When Is Probate Needed?

Santa Clarita Probate Attorney LANavigating the probate process can be complex and daunting, especially during a time of grief. Understanding when probate is necessary and how a Santa Clarita Probate Attorney can assist you is crucial. This guide will provide detailed insights into the probate process in California and highlight key scenarios where probate is required.

What is Probate?

Probate is the legal process through which a deceased person’s estate is administered and distributed. It involves validating the will (if one exists), paying off debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to the rightful heirs or beneficiaries. This process ensures that the decedent’s wishes are honored and that the estate is handled in an orderly and legal manner.

When is Probate Required in California?

    1. No Will or Invalid Will: When a person dies intestate (without a will), California’s intestacy laws dictate how their estate is distributed. A probate court is required to appoint an executor or administrator to manage this process. Similarly, if the will is deemed invalid due to issues like undue influence or lack of proper witnessing, probate becomes necessary to settle the estate.
    1. Assets Solely Owned by the Decedent: Probate is required when the deceased has left behind assets solely in their name. These assets typically include real estate, bank accounts, investment accounts, and personal property that have no joint owner or designated beneficiary.
    1. Estates Exceeding the Small Estate Threshold: In California, estates valued over $184,500 must go through probate. Smaller estates can often use simplified probate procedures, but larger estates require formal probate to ensure all debts are paid, and assets are distributed according to the law or the will.
    1. Unresolved Debts and Liabilities: If the deceased had outstanding debts or liabilities, probate ensures these are settled before the estate is distributed. This protects creditors’ rights and ensures that the heirs do not inherit unexpected debts.
    1. Disputes Among Heirs: When there are disputes among heirs or beneficiaries about the distribution of the estate, probate can provide a legal framework for resolving these conflicts. A Santa Clarita Probate Attorney can help mediate and represent parties to reach a fair resolution.

The Role of a Santa Clarita Probate Attorney

Santa Clarita Probate Attorney, like those at the Law Offices of Andrew Cohen, plays a crucial role in guiding families through the probate process. Here are some ways they can assist:
    1. Legal Expertise and Guidance: A probate attorney provides expert legal advice on how to proceed with the probate process, ensuring that all legal requirements are met and the process runs smoothly.
    1. Representation in Court: If the probate process involves court appearances, a probate attorney can represent the estate, handling all necessary documentation and legal arguments.
    1. Handling Estate Administration: The attorney can manage the entire estate administration process, including filing the will with the probate court, notifying creditors and heirs, and distributing assets.
    1. Resolving Disputes: Probate attorneys can mediate disputes among heirs or beneficiaries, striving to reach an amicable agreement and, if necessary, representing clients in court.
    1. Protecting Executor/Administrator: Executors and administrators can be held liable for mistakes during the probate process. A probate attorney ensures they fulfill their duties correctly and protects them from legal repercussions.

Steps in the Probate Process

    1. Filing a Petition: The probate process begins with filing a petition with the probate court to either admit the will to probate or appoint an administrator if there is no will.
    1. Notifying Heirs and Creditors: Once the court accepts the petition, all potential heirs and creditors must be notified. This allows them to present any claims against the estate.
    1. Inventory and Appraisal: The executor or administrator must compile a detailed inventory of the deceased’s assets and have them appraised to determine their value.
    1. Paying Debts and Taxes: All valid debts and taxes must be paid from the estate before any assets can be distributed to the heirs or beneficiaries.
    1. Distribution of Assets: After debts and taxes are settled, the remaining assets are distributed according to the will or, if there is no will, according to California intestacy laws.
    1. Closing the Estate: The final step involves filing a petition for final distribution with the court, detailing how the assets were distributed, and requesting to close the estate.


1. How long does the probate process take? 

The probate process in California can take anywhere from several months to over a year, depending on the complexity of the estate and whether there are any disputes.

2. Can probate be avoided?

Yes, probate can be avoided through estate planning strategies such as creating a living trust, designating beneficiaries on accounts, and holding property in joint tenancy.

3. What are the costs associated with probate? 

Costs include court fees, attorney fees, and executor fees. These costs are typically paid from the estate before distribution to the heirs.

4. Is probate required for all assets? 

No, probate is not required for assets held in a living trust, accounts with designated beneficiaries, and property held in joint tenancy.


Navigating the probate process can be overwhelming, but with the assistance of a knowledgeable Santa Clarita Probate Attorney, the process can be managed efficiently and effectively. The Law Offices of Andrew Cohen offer the expertise and support needed to handle all aspects of probate, ensuring that your loved one’s estate is settled according to their wishes and California law. For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact the Law Offices of Andrew Cohen. Explore More :