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Do You Know How to Probate an Estate?

Do You Know How to Probate an Estate?

Troy Werner and his family

Written by Troy Werner

Troy Werner has been an indispensable asset to The Werner Law Firm since joining in 2009, providing exceptional legal service to its clients.

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POSTED ON: February 28, 2024

You might have a job or just have retired, and you learn suddenly that your Great Aunt Lucy died and named you executor of her will. How hard could it be you ask to resolve an estate by yourself without professional advice or a competent professional beside you?

Being asked to serve as an executor is flattering, as it shows someone you love trusts you enough to put you in charge of managing their estate. However, probating an estate is no simple task, according to a recent article from The Mercury, “Planning Ahead: Do you really want to handle probating an estate on your own?”

Having an experienced estate planning attorney help with probate may be the difference between years of headaches and a few months of involvement, but not being overwhelmed with finalizing your loved one’s estate.

First, do you have time or energy to deal with many different bureaucracies? Financial institutions, insurance companies, annuity providers, governmental entities, and other entities can be challenging.

Next, are you familiar with the laws, procedures, and tax laws in Aunt Lucy’s state? If she lived in your state, you’re about to learn how your state works. If she lives in another state, you’ll need to learn a lot about how an estate is settled in a place you might never have been. However, you may need to travel to and take care of Aunt Lucy’s estate.

If your aunt owned property in more than one jurisdiction, being her executor may require you to become involved in a process called “ancillary probate,” where assets need to be transferred into the names of the beneficiaries listed in her will. You might need to work with an estate planning attorney from Aunt Lucy’s state to get this done.

Another consideration: are you prepared to navigate the family dynamics? This may not be too bad if you are Great Aunt Lucy’s only heir. However, you may become embroiled in family spats if your aunt had a family of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. If the family members are contentious, you may deal with more than bureaucracies.

A few other things you’ll need to know:

Some states have an estate tax, while others have an inheritance tax. Even if there’s no federal estate tax due on the estate, you’ll need to address these two taxes.

The inheritance tax follows the jurisdiction of the decedent, not the beneficiary. If the state has an inheritance tax, it doesn’t matter if you live out of state. Heirs still must pay the tax.

Non-probate property may still be taxed. In some states, like Pennsylvania, property passed through a Revocable Living Trust is still taxable for the state’s inheritance tax. So is property passing as “Payable on Death” (POD) or Transfer on Death (TOD). Jointly titled assets are taxable at a proportionate share of the value.

These details are just a few reasons an experienced estate planning attorney brings value to the estate. It’s not easy for a layperson to settle an estate without the help of skilled professionals.

If you're dealing with a probate case, we'd be happy to see how we can assist. Contact The Werner Law Firm probate attorneys in Los Angeles today.

If you have any questions, schedule a free appointment with us through our online appointment page.

You can also read reviews from some of the hundreds of clients we have helped over the years.

Reference: The Mercury (Jan. 31, 2024) “Planning Ahead: Do you really want to handle probating an estate on your own?”

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Founded in 1975 by L. Rob Werner and serving California for over 48 years, our dedicated attorneys are available for clients, friends, and family members to receive the legal help they need and deserve. You can trust in our experience and reputation to help navigate you through your unique legal matters.

Whether you need help creating a living trust or navigating probate, our living trust law firm's compassionate team of estate planning lawyers and probate lawyers are here to help you and ready to answer your questions.

Our goal is to make your case as easy as possible for you. Hiring a lawyer can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. From the moment you contact our firm, through the final resolution of your case, our goal is to make the process easy and understandable. We cannot change the fact that probate is a long and complicated process, but through our Werner Law Firm Difference, we strive to go out of our way to keep you informed of your case through every step of the way. We are constantly refining our processes and procedures for a more streamlined and calm client experience. Our goal is to have you feel like a burden was lifted from your shoulders, and that we made the whole process an easy one

If you're dealing with a legal matter, we urge you to schedule a free initial appointment today and join the many satisfied clients who have contacted Werner Law Firm.

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