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Do You Need An Attorney To Close Out an Estate?

By Pantea I. Fozouni

March 31, 2020

Do You Need An Attorney To Close Out An Estate In California

Do You Need an Attorney to Close Out an Estate?

Do you need an attorney to close out an estate? Well, some people say yes, some people say no. Today’s video, we are going to talk about that so that you can decide for yourself what the answer is.

Hi everyone, my name is Pantea Fozouni with Palm Desert Law Group, and today we’re going to talk about whether or not you need an attorney to close out an estate. So this question comes up over and over again. I know a lot of times people are trying to avoid dealing with attorneys because we’ve got these bad reputations.

And I have to be honest, I don’t like most attorneys either, so I don’t blame most people when they say they don’t like attorneys. However, this is one of those areas where it is really helpful to have an attorney involved depending on the situation.

The Probate Process in California

So here in California, the probate process, that’s the process your assets have to go through or the assets of your loved one if you die or they die with those assets still in your name. Here in California, it typically takes about 12 to 15 to 16 months to go through that process.

Now, there is an expedited process, a quicker process that you can go through if the person who’s died had no real property and if they owned less than $150,000 in assets. So if that’s the case, no property less than $150,000, there is that shortened process that typically takes about six months. If you don’t want to hire an attorney to go through that, you can do it yourself.

However, there are a lot of court appearances that have to happen. There’s a lot of things, a lot of deadlines that need to happen. So you want to make sure you’re really, really careful to follow all of those.

And if you do that and you don’t want to use an attorney, okay. It’s not the best, but okay. If you do have to go through the entire probate process, the typical process that happens if you either own property or you have assets more than $150,000 or even if you don’t own property, if it’s assets more than $150,000, I do highly recommend hiring an attorney to do that. Probate process is complicated even for attorneys who’ve practicing for a long time. There’s always new things that come up, different changes that happen. I highly, highly, highly recommend hiring an attorney for that.

Avoiding The Probate Process

Now, I’m going to have to be honest with you. I don’t do probate in my office. Why? My entire focus is on making sure that my clients don’t have to go through the probate process in the first place. Most of the planning we do is to make sure that we avoid conflict for our families. We avoid having our families have to go through that probate process, that court process, in the first place. But if you’re stuck going through it, I do highly recommend you hire an attorney for that.

The other thing is that if you have a trust, a fully funded trust, which is the only way to actually avoid probate, that can be administered in the privacy of an attorney’s office. If you’ve got a really, really good CPA, again, I always recommend an attorney. We’re talking legal, so attorneys are better, but I know that there are some really great CPAs out there who can, even though they’re not supposed to necessarily, they can do a great job walking their clients through. That is an area where if you really choose not to have any professionals and you are the trustee of the trust, you can get away with doing it on your own.

So, Do You Need an Attorney to Close Out an Estate?

However, because you have this really important responsibility to the person who named you as the trustee, you really want to make sure you do the best job available, the best job that you can. And one of the best ways to ensure you’re doing that is by hiring the right professionals to help you and to hold your hand through that process. So unless you are an attorney yourself, or you are a CPA, or unless there’s really no assets at all involved, I highly recommend having an attorney. But again, at the end of the day, it’s up to you.

So I hope that answered the question of  “Do You Need an Attorney to Close Out an Estate?” Once again, my name is Pantea Fozouni with Palm Desert Law Group. I really focus on making sure that none of my clients have to go through the probate process itself, but I hope that this video was able to help you make that decision for yourself. Looking forward to talking to you next time. Thanks.

This article is a service of Pantea I. Fozouni, Family Business Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. Go online today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

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