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Oakland Probate Attorney

Losing a loved one is profoundly difficult, and having to deal with probate can add an extra layer of stress. The compassionate Oakland probate lawyers at Barr & Douds are here to guide you through every step of the estate administration process to ensure that your loved one’s wishes are honored and their assets are distributed smoothly and efficiently.

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

What Is Probate?

Probate is a legal process that takes place after someone passes away. It involves the following key steps:

  • Validating the Will (If There Is One): The court confirms that the will is legitimate and reflects the deceased person’s final wishes.
  • Appointing an Executor or Administrator: This person is responsible for managing the estate, paying debts, and distributing assets according to the will or state law.
  • Identifying and Gathering Assets: The executor locates and secures all the deceased person’s property, including bank accounts, real estate, investments, and personal items.
  • Paying Debts and Taxes: Outstanding debts, taxes, and final expenses are settled from the estate’s assets.
  • Distributing Remaining Assets: After debts are paid, the remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries named in the will or according to state law if there’s no will.

As you might imagine, probate can be a complex process, especially if the deceased doesn’t leave a will.

probate

Probate Matters We Can Help With

Our Oakland probate attorneys have extensive experience in a wide range of probate matters, including the following.

Probate Administration

Our knowledgeable attorneys can guide you through the entire probate process, from the initial petition to the final distribution of assets. We’ll prepare and file all necessary court documents, represent you in court hearings, communicate with creditors and beneficiaries, manage the estate’s assets, and pay all required debts and taxes.

Trust Litigation

We know how to effectively represent clients in disputes arising from the administration of trusts and estates, tackling complicated litigation cases with skill and dedication.

Will Contest

If there are concerns about the validity of a will due to issues like undue influence, lack of capacity, or improper execution, our attorneys are prepared to contest the will to protect your interests.

Breach of Fiduciary Duty

We routinely handle cases where executors, trustees, or administrators are accused of not acting in the best interests of the estate or its beneficiaries. We’ll seek accountability and rectification as part of our duties.

Beneficiary Rights

Our team works tirelessly to uphold beneficiaries’ rights and interests, including rightful asset distribution and timely execution of the estate.

Trustee Removal

If a trustee fails to comply with their duties, we can aid in their removal and replacement to safeguard the integrity of the trust administration.

Trust Accounting Disputes

Our legal professionals know how to resolve disputes related to the accuracy and transparency of trust accountings, ensuring that all financial activities are correctly reported and disputes are settled fairly.

Additional Probate Services

Along with the above services, our attorneys can also assist you with:

  • Managing small estates and summary probate procedures
  • Preparing estate tax returns
  • Advising on post-death tax-planning strategies
  • Helping with ancillary probate (probate in multiple states)

No matter how simple or complex your probate issue may be, our team is here to provide you with knowledgeable, effective, empathetic legal representation.

wide range of probate matters

When Is Probate Necessary?

In California, probate is generally necessary when someone passes away and one or both of the following conditions apply:

The Deceased Owned Assets Solely in Their Name

This refers to assets that don’t have a named beneficiary or aren’t held in joint tenancy with the right of survivorship. These could include real estate, bank accounts, stocks, or personal belongings.

The Value of These Assets Exceeds $184,500

As of 2024, this is the threshold for requiring probate in California. However, there are some exceptions and simplified procedures for smaller estates.

It’s important to note that even if probate isn’t strictly required, it may still be beneficial in certain situations. Our skilled probate and estate planning attorneys can help you determine whether probate is necessary and advise you on how to proceed if it is.

 

Consult an Oakland Probate Lawyer Today for Legal Help
Don’t attempt to navigate the probate process alone. Contact Barr & Douds today to learn more about how we can help make sure everything goes smoothly.

How Long Does the Probate Process Take?

The length of the probate process in California can vary significantly depending on several factors, including:

  • The Complexity of the Estate: Simple estates with few assets and no disputes can often be resolved in 9–12 months, while complex estates can take 18 months or longer.
  • The Court’s Calendar: The court’s schedule can also affect the timeline — if they have a backlog, it may take longer to get hearing dates and move the case forward.
  • The Executor’s Responsiveness: The executor’s ability to gather information, communicate with beneficiaries, and complete tasks promptly can influence the timeline.
  • Potential Disputes or Litigation: If there are challenges to the will, disagreements among beneficiaries, or other legal disputes, the process could be delayed.

When you retain the services of a probate attorney from Barr & Douds, they’ll give you a better idea of how long your case is likely to take, given its unique variables.

General Probate Process Timeline

While every case is different, all of them follow the same basic steps. Here’s a general outline of the probate timeline in California:

  1. Filing the Petition: The executor (or a probate attorney) files a petition with the court to open probate.
  2. Notice to Creditors: The court issues a notice to creditors, giving them a four-month period to file claims against the estate.
  3. Inventory and Appraisal: The executor prepares a detailed inventory of the estate’s assets and has them appraised.
  4. Paying Debts and Taxes: The executor pays any outstanding debts, taxes, and final expenses of the deceased.
  5. Accounting: The executor files an accounting with the court, detailing all financial transactions related to the estate.
  6. Distribution of Assets: Once all debts and taxes are satisfied, the remaining assets are distributed to the designated beneficiaries.
  7. Closing the Estate: The executor files a final petition to close the estate.

Note that the duration and complexity of each of these steps can vary, which is why it’s so important to work with a qualified attorney who’s familiar with the process.

the cost of probate

How Much Does Probate Cost in Oakland, CA?

The cost of probate in Oakland can also differ based on several factors. Here’s a breakdown of the typical expenses involved:

  • Attorney’s Fees: In California, attorney’s fees for probate are set by statute and are based on a percentage of the gross value of the estate:
    • 4% of the first $100,000
    • 3% of the next $100,000
    • 2% of the next $800,000
    • 1% of the next $9,000,000
    • 0.5% of the next $15,000,000
    • For estates over $25 million, the court decides on a reasonable amount
  • Executor’s Commission: The executor is also entitled to a statutory commission, which is the same percentage as the attorney’s fees.
  • Court Filing Fees: The initial filing fee for a probate petition in Alameda County is $465.
  • Publication Costs: Notices to creditors and other required notices must be published in a local newspaper, which can cost a few hundred dollars.
  • Appraisal Fees: If the estate includes real estate or other sizable assets, appraisal fees may be necessary.
  • Accounting Fees: An accountant may be needed to prepare estate tax returns and handle complicated financial matters.
  • Bond Premiums: In some cases, the executor may be required to obtain a bond, which comes with a premium cost.
  • Miscellaneous Costs: There may be additional costs for obtaining certified copies of documents, postage, and other assorted expenses.

For an estate valued at $500,000, the statutory fees for both the attorney and executor would be approximately $13,000 each. When combined with other potential costs, the total cost of probate could easily exceed $30,000.

How Our Probate and Estate Planning Lawyers Can Help

The experienced attorneys at Barr & Douds are here to take the lead on your probate and estate planning efforts, providing caring and comprehensive legal support to offer much-needed peace of mind. Here are a few of the ways we can help.

Managing the Probate Process

Our team will handle all aspects of probate administration, from the first step to the last. This includes preparing and filing court documents, representing you in court, corresponding with creditors, and managing estate assets.

Resolving Disputes

If conflicts arise regarding the will, trust, or asset distribution, we’ll work diligently to find amicable solutions or defend your interests in court.

Protecting Your Rights

Our attorneys will do everything in their power to protect and promote your rights as an executor, beneficiary, or other interested party throughout the probate process.

Probate Litigators

Why Choose Barr & Douds?

When facing the procedural difficulties and emotional challenges of probate litigation, you need a legal team with understanding, experience, and a proven track record of success. Here’s why Barr & Douds is the right choice.

Seasoned Probate Litigators

Our attorneys have decades of combined experience handling a diverse array of probate litigation matters, from contested will to trust disputes and allegations of fiduciary misconduct. We thoroughly understand the intricacies of California probate law and court procedures.

Impressive Record

Our firm has successfully represented clients in countless probate litigation cases over the years. We know how to protect your interests and secure a favorable outcome for your case.

Client-Centered Approach

To us, you’re more than just a client. We’ll always prioritize your needs and concerns, offering personalized attention and clear, transparent communication throughout the legal process.

Local Acumen

Our extensive knowledge of local courts, judges, and procedures gives us a decisive advantage in overseeing probate litigation in Oakland and the surrounding areas.

WE ARE READY TO HELP

Our Oakland Probate and Estate Lawyers

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 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
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
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Schedule a Consultation

If you’re facing a probate dispute or need assistance with estate litigation, you deserve the best possible representation. Contact Barr & Douds today to arrange an initial consultation to discuss your case. We’re here to remove the obstacles from your path and achieve a fair resolution.
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