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Probate Lawyer in San Francisco

Work with an Experienced Bay Area Probate Attorney

The probate process can be daunting. Many people have questions about the legalities involved with probate and how to honor their loved ones while correctly handling the administration of the estate.

At O’Neil & Rueppel, LLP, we understand that you are looking for answers in this difficult time. Our trusted team may be able to help. Our probate lawyers in San Francisco have helped hundreds of clients with probate legal matters. We always offer sound legal advice from start to finish.

If you are looking for an experienced probate lawyer, look no further than O’Neil & Rueppel, LLP. Call (415) 992-9452 today to schedule a consultation in San Francisco, Larkspur, or Berkeley.

Understanding the Probate Process in California

Probate is the process in which a representative of the estate performs several estate administration duties. Sometimes this representative is court-appointed, and sometimes this representative, or executor, is specifically named in the deceased person's will. This is similar to, but notably distinct from, a trustee who is responsible for the administration of a trust.

The estate's executor can access the deceased person's property, including money in any existing bank accounts, for the purposes of fulfilling their administration duties. These duties include gathering and tracking the deceased person's assets, notifying their creditors and beneficiaries, resolving remaining legal claims, and distributing the remaining assets at the end of administration to the beneficiaries.

The probate process often involves:

  • Validation of a will
  • Notification of the probate process to next-of-kin if no will exists
  • Appraisal of value for all property and assets in the estate
  • Sale of property to repay debts to creditors or pay appropriate taxes on the estate
  • Distribution of all remaining property to heirs

Executors can be paid for services using funds in the estate. California law has specific caps on how much executors can charge, starting from 4% of the first $100,000 of the value of the estate.

Disputes can sometimes arise if beneficiaries disagree with how the executor is managing and distributing the estate's assets. These legal contests are often complicated and require the expertise of an estate litigation attorney to navigate.

How to Avoid the Probate Process

Due to the complexities and emotional turmoil involved in probate, many people want to know how they can avoid it entirely. Certain assets and estates can bypass the probate process if they meet certain requirements.

Assets that can avoid probate entirely include:

  • Retirement accounts and IRAs
  • Life Insurance
  • Pension Plans
  • Assets owned jointly by spouses

For any assets that don't fall into these categories, you have the option to set up a trust to pass these assets to beneficiaries without probate. In addition, estates in California can be considered too small to probate if their value does not exceed $150,000 at the date of the decedent's death.

It is always recommended to consult with a probate lawyer to determine what assets may be subject to probate. However, this is especially important if you have high-value assets, own a business, or have children from a divorced spouse.

Work with Our San Francisco Probate Attorneys

At O’Neil & Rueppel, LLP, we want you to be able to focus on your family and heal from the passing of a loved one. Our experienced probate attorneys in the Bay Area can file the necessary paperwork with the courts and other government agencies. We can also represent you during all proceedings. We are compassionate, experienced, and informative, and we strive to always provide an outstanding client/attorney relationship.

Let a skilled San Francisco probate lawyer help you and your family. Contact us at (415) 992-9452 today to get started.

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