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Los Altos Probate Administration

The probate attorneys at Kramer Radin, LLP have extensive experience in probate administration matters, ranging from modest estates to complex estates involving significant assets. Whether you need assistance with a simple estate that can be administered through an affidavit procedure or an estate involving multiple interests in real estate or an ongoing business, our team of attorneys and paralegals provides efficient and cost-effective probate administration services. To schedule a consultation, contact Kramer Radin, LLP.

Probate Administration

Probate administration refers to the process in which a Court oversees the administration of a deceased person’s estate. The purpose of the probate process is to ensure that any final bills and expenses of the decedent are paid, including any taxes owed, and any claims by creditors are settled. Remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries named in the decedent’s will, or if the decedent died without a will, or “intestate,” the decedent’s estate will be distributed to the decedent’s heirs pursuant to California’s laws governing intestate succession.

The Probate Process

The Superior Court of the County of Santa Clara’s website has a helpful diagram that outlines the various steps required in the probate process. Click here to view this diagram.

We are often asked how long it will take to complete the probate administration of an estate. While we can provide you with an estimate of the amount of time we anticipate it will take, it is important to note that the time can vary significantly depending on a number of factors, including but not limited to:

  • The Court’s schedule;
  • The nature and complexity of the estate;
  • The amount of time required for the probate referee to complete the appraisal;
  • Whether the estate involves the sale of any real property;
  • Whether any creditors file claims against the estate;
  • The requirement of any estate tax returns; and
  • If a dispute arises requiring litigation to resolve it.

Generally speaking, for a simple estate it will take nine months to a year to obtain a signed Order for Distribution from the Court. Clients often ask if this can be expedited, but it generally takes about six to eight weeks from the filing of the petition for a personal representative to be appointed. After the personal representative is appointed, they are required to give notice to all known creditors. Four months must then elapse to give  creditors time to file a claim against the estate. After this four-month period has passed, the petition for distribution may be filed with the Court, and then it generally takes six to eight weeks for the Court to approve the petition and sign the order for distribution.

Avoiding Delays in the Process

The probate process can be significantly delayed if mistakes are made in filing documents with the Court, as those mistakes can result in documents being rejected for filing by the Court or require further supplemental explanation or amendment. You can avoid such mistakes by selecting an experienced California probate attorney to represent you. Our attorneys and paralegals have a wealth of experience in probate administration and can help you avoid mistakes and pitfalls in the probate process.

Costs of Probate

Probate costs and fees generally include the following:

  • Costs of administration, which include Court fees, publication fees, surety bond fees (if required), probate referee fees, certification and recording fees;
  • Fees paid to the personal representative (the fee paid to the executor or administrator of the estate for his or her services); and
  • Fees paid to the attorney for his or her services.

The fees paid to the personal representative and the attorney are set by California law as a percentage of the gross value of the estate, and are calculated as follows:

  • 4% on the first $100,000
  • 3% on the next $100,000
  • 2% on the next $800,000
  • 1% on the next $9 million
  • ½% on the next $15 million
  • “Reasonable” compensation on the excess over $25 million

Will Contests and Other Disputes

Challenges may arise at any time during the probate process, whether someone objects to the appointment of a personal representative, challenges the validity of a will, or disputes an accounting or distribution. Our probate attorneys are also experienced probate and estate litigators, and are prepared to litigate and defend against any disputes or challenges that may arise.

Experienced Northern California Probate Lawyers

As the personal representative of a decedent’s estate, you will be confronted with many important decisions and will have many fiduciary duties and responsibilities. One of the most important decisions you will make is retaining an experienced California probate attorney to guide you and represent you throughout the probate process. For experienced advice and representation, contact Kramer Radin, LLP.