Probate Attorneys Santa Cruz County
The Scotts Valley law firm Dawson, Passafuime, Bowden & Martinez cover all aspects of Probate Litigation and Estate Administration for people living in Santa Cruz County.
Probate is a court process that determines the valuation and distribution of a deceased person’s property. The Probate process occurs when a person died with or without a will. Probates are within the jurisdiction of the Superior Court of California. A Probate proceeding is usually conducted in the county of the decedent’s last residence or in the county where the decedent owned property.
During a Probate Administration, the administrator or executor is tasked with the following:
>Identifying, accountings, and organizing all the decedent’s assets.
>Identifying and settling all the decedent’s outstanding debts.
>Paying all taxes associated with the estate.
>Distributing the remaining assets in the estate to beneficiaries.
>Preparing a final accounting of the assets, debs, taxes, and distributions.
Probate can be a costly and lengthy process. The cost of Probate is determined by a number of factors including the value of the estate and the complexity of the assets and liabilities of the Probate Estate.
People often ask the question, “How do I avoid Probate?” Although smaller estates have simplified procedures that can bypass the lengthy Probate process, usually a person has to take action to ensure that his/her estate avoids Probate. There isn’t one simple task to avoid Probate. Avoiding Probate involves a systematic approach to a person’s assets to ensure that those assets do not have to go through Probate. One thing a person can due to avoid Probate is to put their assets in a trust. The trust documents has provisions for how the assets will be divided upon the death of the trustor. Another method is to list a Pay-on-Death beneficiary on bank accounts and life insurance. Upon the decedent’s death, the money will automatically be paid to the named beneficiary with those accounts. For real estate, a husband and wife or registered domestic partners can hold title to the property as joint tenants with right of survivorship. Upon the death of one joint tenant, the person’s portion is automatically transferred among any of the remaining joint tenants. A person can also give gifts to other people during their lifetime. If the asset has already been transferred before the decedent’s death, the asset does not go through Probate.
In addition to having experience Probating an estate, the Probate lawyers at Dawson, Passafuime, Bowden & Martinez can also assist a heir or beneficiary in the event of fraud, undue influence, or theft of estate property, as well as deal with any issues of testamentary capacity. Also, our Probate attorneys can help file a will contest if there are grounds to challenge the validity of a will.