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Beverly Hills Probate Information

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Understanding Probate

When an individual dies leaving a will, the legal process that takes place is called probate. Probate refers to how an estate is administered and processed through the legal system.

Probate Lawyers

The probate process can be confusing and overwhelming considering the circumstances. A Beverly Hills probate lawyer will help with the management of the decedent's estate, any trusts he or she may have as well as any guardianships or conservatorships in question.

Probate cases often become very detailed and a probate lawyer will help ensure the rights of the deceased are fully protected. Attorneys also have the sensitivity to family dynamics and are knowledgeable in common problems with probate cases.

What is probate?

Probate is the process through which assets from a deceased person's estate are transferred to beneficiaries, such as spouses, children, and other loved ones. In plain terms, reading a person's will and distributing the items contained in it is part of the probate process. In some states, probate courts also handle matters related to guardianships and conservatorships of children or disabled adults.

What happens if you don't do probate?

Without an estate plan in place, the probate process will often still go forward, but it can get messier. Someone who dies without a will in place will often have their assets given to any survivors, even if that would have gone against their wishes. Court battles can unfold among relatives who feel like they deserve more.

How long does probate take?

In a simple case where there are no disputes, and the deceased had a strong plan in place, the probate process of distributing assets and paying off debts may only take a few months to complete. If someone challenges the will or any other part of the estate distribution, it can take much longer.

How can you avoid probate?

If you want your beneficiaries to avoid the hassle of probate, you have several options. You can make sure to name beneficiaries of bank accounts, retirement accounts, and life insurance policies. You could also move your assets to a living trust, which will allow you to access them while you are still alive but will automatically pass to your beneficiaries upon your death.

How an Attorney Can Help

An attorney can often resolve your particular legal issue faster and better than trying to do it alone. A lawyer can help you navigate the legal system, while avoiding costly mistakes or procedural errors. You should seek out an attorney whose practice focuses on the area of law most relevant to your issue.

Top Questions to Ask a Lawyer

  • What is the usual process to resolve my case? How long will it take to resolve this?
  • What are likely outcomes of a case like mine? What should I expect?

An experienced lawyer should be able to communicate a basic "road map" on how to proceed. The lawyer should be able to walk you through the anticipated process, key considerations, and potential pitfalls to avoid. Once you've laid out the facts of your situation to the lawyer, he/she should be able to frame expectations and likely scenarios to help you understand your legal issue.

Types of legal fees:

Bill by the hour: Many attorneys bill by the hour. How much an attorney bills you per hour will vary based on a number of factors. For instance, an attorney's hourly fee may fluctuate based on whether that hour is spent representing you in court or doing research on your case. Attorneys in one practice area may bill you more than attorneys in a different practice area.

Contingent fee: Some lawyers will accept payment via contingent fee. In this arrangement, the lawyer receives a percentage of the total monetary recovery if you win your lawsuit. In sum, the lawyer only gets paid if you win. Contingent fee agreements are limited to specific practice areas in civil law.

Flat fee: For "routine" legal work where the attorney generally knows the amount of time and resources necessary to complete the task, he/she may be willing to bill you a flat fee for services performed.

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