What is Probate and Is It Necessary?

“Probate” is a legal system for managing and paying out the property of a deceased person.  Under this system, the goals are to make sure the decedent’s legitimate bills are paid; his/her property is properly managed; and the property is transferred to the people who are legally entitled to it.  The Probate Court determines whether a will is valid.  If there is no valid will, the Court determines who, under the law, should receive the decedent’s assets.

In the majority of situations, it is not necessary to open a probate case.  For example, if the deceased person had most of his/her property in a trust, or in community property, or in joint tenancy or payable on death accounts, a probate may not be necessary.  You should consult with an attorney as to whether a probate is needed or advisable in your situation.

Why Hire Serbin & Carmeli To Handle Your Probate Matter

For approximately 30 years, Howard’s clients were the Orange County Public Administrator and the Orange County Public Guardian.  When there was no appropriate person for the court to appoint to administer an estate, Howard’s client would be appointed as the Personal Representative.  As a result, Howard has worked on over 1,000 probate matters.

Who is Appointed In a Probate Matter?

If probate is necessary, the Court will appoint a personal representative to be in charge of the estate.  The Court usually appoints the person named as Executor in the last will.  If there is no will, or if all persons named as executor are unwilling, unable or unqualified to act, the Court will appoint someone else.

Representing the Personal Representative

Various legal issues can arise between the time the personal representative takes charge of the estate and the property is distributed to the decedent’s heirs or beneficiaries:

If you are a personal representative, you will have legal obligations and duties, such as notifying creditors, protecting assets, and reporting to the Court.  Howard Serbin has advised personal representatives in estate administrations ranging from the routine to the very complex, and can guide you through the probate process.

Representing the Heir or Beneficiary

  • If you are an heir or beneficiary of the estate, you will have the opportunity to review the personal representative’s actions when he/she presents the final accounting.
  • There may also be situations where you can stop the personal representative from taking an action you oppose, such as a sale of real property.
  • If the personal representative has violated his/her duties, you may be able to have him/her removed.  If the personal representative has caused improper losses, you may also be able to have the personal representative penalized and/or removed.

Client Results: Probates

One of the Most Complicated Probates in Orange County History

  • Facts: After learning that federal regulators from the FDIC were closing down his Savings & Loan bank, the owner drove his car into the center divider of a freeway and died.  In one of the more complicated probates in Orange County, the decedent’s estate had about $10M in assets but $100M was owed to creditors.
  • Result: Representing the estate, Howard handled the case on behalf of the County Public Administrator and negotiated a settlement with federal regulators to preserve some of the assets for the decedent’s general creditors and to avoid all assets going to the FDIC.

Get your probate questions answered by Serbin & Carmeli, Attorneys at Law in Orange County.  Contact us today!

Now serving the following Orange County areas:  Aliso Viejo, Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, Cerritos, Chino Hills, Corona, Corona Del Mar, Costa Mesa, Cypress, Diamond Bar, El Toro, Foothill Ranch, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Irvine, La Habra, La Mirada, La Palma, Laguna Hills, Laguna Woods, Lake Forest, Lakewood, Long Beach, Los Alamitos, Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Placentia, Santa Ana, Seal Beach, Sunset Beach, Surfside, Tustin, Villa Park, Walnut, Westminster, Whittier and Yorba Linda.  We can also  arrange to meet clients in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.