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Livermore Probate Lawyer

At Barr & Douds, our experienced Livermore probate lawyers provide compassionate and comprehensive legal support through the probate process, handling your loved one’s estate with care and precision.

Our attorneys represent clients throughout the Bay Area, including Danville, Walnut Creek, San Francisco, Pleasant Hill, Livermore, and Oakland.

probate process

What Is Probate?

Probate is the legal process of administering a deceased person’s estate. It involves validating the will (if one exists), appointing an executor or administrator, and ensuring all debts, taxes, and final expenses are paid. The remaining assets are then distributed to the rightful heirs or beneficiaries according to the will or to state law if no will is present.

The executor or administrator of an estate is also called the “personal representative.” This person must ensure that the decedent’s affairs are settled in an orderly and legally compliant manner.

What Is the Probate Process?

The probate process in California has seven general stages.

1. Filing the Petition

The process begins by filing a petition with the probate court to either admit the will to probate and appoint an executor or, if there is no will, appoint an administrator for the estate.

2. Notifying Heirs and Creditors

All potential heirs, beneficiaries, and creditors must be formally notified of the probate proceedings. This notification allows time for any interested parties to make claims against the estate or to contest the will.

3. Inventorying the Estate

The executor or administrator is responsible for identifying and taking inventory of all of the decedent’s assets. This inventory may include real estate, personal property, bank accounts, and investments.

4. Appraising Assets

A third party will appraise the deceased’s assets to determine their value at the time of the death. This step ensures accurate accounting and fair distribution of the estate.

5. Paying Debts and Taxes

Before distributing the estate, the personal representative will use the decedent’s assets to pay any outstanding debts. They must also file a final income tax return and pay any estate taxes due.

6. Distributing the Estate

After all debts and taxes are paid, the remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries according to the will or, if there is no will, according to California intestacy laws.

7. Closing the Estate

The final step involves the executor or administrator filing a final account with the court. Once the court approves this account, the estate is officially closed, and the executor or administrator is discharged from their duties.

Closing the Estate

Probate Matters We Can Help With

At Barr & Douds, our skilled probate lawyers are equipped to handle a range of probate matters. We offer guidance and representation in the following areas:

  • Trust Litigation: We represent clients in disputes involving trusts, confirming that the trust’s terms are followed and your rights are protected.
  • Contested Wills: If you believe a will is invalid due to fraud, undue influence, or lack of capacity, we can help you contest it in court.
  • Breach of Fiduciary Duty: Our attorneys hold executors, administrators, and trustees accountable for their actions, addressing any breaches of their fiduciary duties.
  • Beneficiary Rights: We advocate for beneficiaries to receive their rightful inheritance and verify that the estate is administered fairly.
  • Trustee Removal: If a trustee does not fulfill their duties or fails to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries, we can help you seek their removal.
  • Trust Accounting Disputes: We assist in resolving disputes related to the accounting and management of trust assets, advocating for transparency and accuracy.

When disputes arise during the probate process, you can turn to Barr & Douds probate attorneys. Our goal is to thoughtfully carry out your loved one’s wishes while protecting your interests.

When Is Probate Necessary?

An estate must go through probate under the following circumstances:

  • No Will: When a person dies intestate (without a will), probate courts will appoint an administrator to distribute the estate according to California law.
  • Disputed Wills: When there is a dispute or contest over the validity of a will, probate is necessary to resolve these issues through the court.
  • Assets in the Decedent’s Name Only: If the deceased owned assets solely in their name, such as real estate or bank accounts, probate is needed to transfer these assets to the rightful heirs.
  • Complex Estates: For estates involving multiple properties, significant debts, or various types of assets, probate ensures an orderly administration and distribution process.
  • No Beneficiary Designations: If the deceased’s life insurance policy or retirement accounts do not have designated beneficiaries, probate is required to determine the heirs.
  • Creditor Claims: Probate provides a structured process for creditors to make claims against the estate and ensures that all debts are settled before distributing the remaining assets to heirs.

Without probate, the courts cannot confirm that an estate is distributed correctly under the law. That’s why complex estates are more likely to go through probate.

 

Contact a Livermore Probate Attorney for Experienced Legal Guidance
Your loved one's estate should be managed with care. Reach out to Barr & Douds today for skilled and sympathetic probate assistance.

How Long Does the Probate Process Take?

The duration of probate depends partially on how complex the estate is. Other factors that can lengthen the process include the absence of a will and disputes among heirs or beneficiaries.

Generally, probate can take anywhere from several months to over a year. Here’s a brief overview:

  • Simple Estates: Uncomplicated estates with a clear will and no disputes may take around six to nine months to close.
  • Complex Estates: Estates with numerous assets, debts, or tax issues can take 12 months or longer to close.
  • Disputed Estates: Challenges to the will or disputes among beneficiaries can sometimes take several years to fully resolve.

Each estate is unique, and the timeline will depend on the individual circumstances and the efficiency of the probate court handling the case. An experienced probate attorney can help streamline the process and promptly address any issues that arise.

How Much Does Probate Cost in Livermore, CA?

Factors that affect the cost of probate in Livermore, CA, include the complexity of the case and the specific services required. Here are some common expenses:

  • Court Fees: These include filing fees, which can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the size of the estate.
  • Attorney Fees: In California, attorney fees for probate are based on a statutory fee schedule tied to the value of the estate.
  • Executor Fees: Executors are entitled to the same statutory fees as attorneys, although they can waive this fee if they choose to.
  • Other Costs: Additional costs may include appraisal fees, accounting fees, publication fees for public notices, and other administrative expenses.

Overall, the total cost of probate can range from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars, which are paid out of the estate’s assets. A probate attorney can provide a more precise estimate based on your specific situation.

How Much Does Probate Cost in Livermore

How Our Livermore Probate Lawyers Can Help

At Barr & Douds, our experienced probate lawyers offer comprehensive support through every step of the probate process. Here’s how we can help:

  • Meeting Legal Requirements: Fulfilling legal requirements in compliance with California probate laws, from filing petitions to notifying heirs and creditors.
  • Managing Estate Assets: Assistance in accurately inventorying and appraising the estate’s assets.
  • Resolving Disputes: Supporting clients and protecting their rights during will contests, trust litigation, and beneficiary claims.
  • Handling Debts and Taxes: Managing and settling the decedent’s debts, taxes, and final expenses before estate distribution.
  • Efficient Distribution: Distributing remaining assets according to the will or state law, facilitating a smooth and timely transfer to the rightful beneficiaries.

One of our most important tasks is to provide guidance and support throughout the probate process, addressing your concerns and communicating clearly every step of the way.

Why Choose Barr & Douds for Probate Litigation in Northern California?

Choosing the right legal representation for probate litigation is crucial for a successful and stress-free resolution. Here’s why Barr & Douds is the right choice for probate litigation in Northern California:

  • Experienced Legal Team: Our team of seasoned probate attorneys has extensive experience handling complex probate litigation cases.
  • Client-Centered Approach: We prioritize our clients’ needs and concerns, offering personalized legal strategies and compassionate support.
  • Proven Track Record: With a history of successful outcomes in probate litigation, we have established a reputation for delivering results and protecting our clients’ interests.
  • Local Base: As a Northern California firm, our in-depth knowledge of local probate courts and procedures gives us a strategic advantage in handling cases in the region.

When disputes arise during probate in Livermore, CA, we’ll be there to skillfully represent your interests in court.

WE ARE READY TO HELP

Our Probate Lawyers Serving Alameda County

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Loren Barr

Loren Barr

Partner
Nick Maxwell

Nick Maxwell

Senior Counsel
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Testimonials

I was looking for some legal services for my daughter. Mr. Barr was kind enough to get on the phone and pointed me in the right direction without hesitation. Thank you.
Jim L., Walnut Creek, CA
I hired Loren Barr several months ago to help me as a beneficiary of my family trust. David Monsour was the attorney assigned to work with me. His work was outstanding. As with situations of this kind, my emotions ran wild at times and he was highly attentive, calm, strong, honest, respectful and responsive. I am very happy with the outcome of our work together and recommend this law office highly.
Lisa W., San Francisco, CA
I found that Graham Douds and Loren Barr are very professional. They listen with compassion and understanding. Graham is the best and I as ex-military found Loren, who is also an honorable Marine, a great person above reproach. Thank you guys for helping my Mother and I. God bless.
Frank Francisco M., Danville, CA
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Schedule a Consultation with the Probate Attorneys at Barr & Douds Today

Contact Barr & Douds to schedule a consultation and get knowledgeable legal guidance for your probate matters. Let us lead you through the probate process with ease.
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