At some point, many Californians may need to rely on the services of a probate court. Probate court matters arise due to the death of a loved one when (s)he has significant assets or when disagreement exists regarding the proper means of honoring the loved one’s final goals and wishes. In other cases, you may need to petition a probate court because a loved one has developed a degenerative condition, or has suffered an accident that results in incapacity and an inability to manage one’s affairs.
The attorneys of NewPoint Law Group are dedicated to protecting the goals and interests of your loved ones. Whether you need a lawyer because of a challenge to a will, or you suspect that undue influence of a caregiver resulted in unwarranted modifications to a loved one’s will, we may be able to help. If you need to establish a conservatorship or guardianship, our extensive probate experience can be used to provide you with the means to do so. To schedule a confidential consultation, call 1-800-358-0305 or contact us online today.
What Is a Probate Court and Why Is It Needed?
A probate court is a court of limited jurisdiction, meaning it can only hear certain types of cases and matters. As set forth above, the most common types of proceeding held in probate court are the distribution of estate property following the death of a loved one, and guardianship and conservatorship hearings. In general, a probate court will assess the validity of a will, account for the estate property, create an inventory of estate property, and guide the process from start to finish. The probate court provides a neutral forum where parties can advocate on behalf of their loved one’s goals.
Is Probate Always Required After the Passing of a Loved One?
After the passing of a loved one, some people assume that they will need to go to court. This is not true. In fact, an array of circumstances can eliminate the need for probate court. For instance, if property passes directly due to joint ownership, such as joint tenancy in a home, then probate proceeds are not necessary. Likewise, certain contracts with defined benefits and beneficiaries–such as a life insurance policy–can also pass without court proceedings.
Furthermore, if your loved one left you $150,000 or less in personal property, you are likely able to avoid the probate process by utilizing a simplified process. However, if the property is real property, like a house or land, it is highly likely you will need to go to court. For instance, if the home or land is worth less than $150,000 you may need to file a Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property (Estates $150,000 or Less) (Form DE-310) and a Inventory and Appraisal (Form DE-160) to schedule a court hearing.
Can a Probate Court Establish a Conservatorship or Guardianship?
In certain scenarios, a California probate court will grant a conservatorship or a guardianship to allow you to handle the affairs of a loved one who can no longer do so. In California, a conservatorship refers only to the establishment of a legal representative and caregiver for an adult. In contrast, a guardianship describes a similar legal caregiver and decision-maker relationship but on the behalf of a child. In both types of relationships, the conservator or guardian must act as a fiduciary meaning that they must do what is best for their represented party’s best interests.
Courts are notoriously reluctant to grant guardianships and conservatorships because of the inherent nature of placing a person in charge of another’s affairs. Therefore, the person petitioning for the guardianship must provide significant evidence showing that the guardianship is justified. Generally, this evidence should include medical and psychological opinions and other findings that support the need for the guardianship or conservatorship.
Contact a Folsom, California Probate Lawyer Today
If you have concerns about a will after the passing of a loved one, the attorneys of NewPoint Law Group may be able to help. Likewise, if you are looking to establish a conservatorship or a guardianship, we can assess the probability of a probate court granting your petition. We can then help you build evidence and support for the court proceedings. To schedule a confidential consultation, call 1-800-358-0305 today or contact our Folsom office today.