phone Free Consultation: 415-397-3713

114 Sansome St #280, San Francisco, CA 94104
114 Sansome Street, Suite 280
San Francisco, CA 94104

San Francisco Propate Attorneys Mary May img

California Probate Attorney

California probate attorneys Mayo & Mayo specialize in Probate Administration, Probate Litigation, Probate Creditor Claims and Mediation. California Probate attorney fees are set by California statute as shown below and our law firm advances all costs.  You may look for a probate attorney near me however everything today is done by email so you do not need to be in San Francisco or California to start a probate proceeding and you do not need to attend the court hearings.  Free consultation 415-397-3713

Probate is a court process required for California estates over $150,000 where the decedent did not have a Trust.  Our San Francisco probate lawyers can prepare and file all documents required from start to finish of the probate and will advance all of the Probate Court filing fees and other costs.  Estate attorney fees and reimbursement of costs will be paid by the estate at the end of the probate case. The California attorney fees for a probate are set by statute and the fee schedule is shown in the first tab below.

The Executor or Administrator is also entitled to claim the same fee or can waive the fee. Our San Francisco probate attorney will also take care of all of the required notices, probate court requirements, coordinate any necessary appraisals, work with the administrator or executor to liquidate assets, arrange for the creditors to be paid, file creditor objections, and work closely with the personal representative to expedite the many details unique to an expeditious close and distribution of the probate funds to the beneficiaries.  Your questions will always be answered promptly and thoroughly.  Free consultation 415-397-3713

1. Probate Administration

2. Probate Litigation and Beneficiary Claims

3. Creditor Claims

4. Mediation

1. Probate Administration

Why Probate

The first step our probate attorney in San Francisco will take is to determine whether a probate proceeding is required.  If the estate is less than $150,000 in gross assets, an estate can usually be distributed to the heirs with a California small estate affidavit without probate administration which is a much less expensive approach.  Living trusts, also called revocable trusts, or real property that is held in joint tenancy, can also be distributed without a probate and our San Francisco attorneys can assist you with the Trust Administration.  If the decedent’s primary residence was in a State outside of California, then the primary probate administration would be filed in that state of domicile.  If the decedent held real property in California, an ancillary probate would be filed here.

California Probate Fees

California probate fees are set by California statute. The personal representative (the executor of the Will or the administrator without a Will) and the attorney for the estate are each entitled to the same fee.  California law sets the probate fee schedule based on the gross value of the estate at 4% of the first $100,000, 3% of the second $100,000, 2% of the next $800,000 and 1% over $1 million up to $9 million at which point the fee is further reduced. Court filing fees vary by county. For example, the San Francisco probate court charges $450 to file the initial petition for probate and a $435 filing fee to file the final petition for distribution to the heirs. San Mateo County and Alameda County probate court charges $465 to file the probate petition. There are other costs involved that average $1,500 to $2,500 to the estate, depending on the size of the estate and include court filing fees, publication to creditors and the fee charged by the court-appointed probate referee who will value the estate as of the date of death.  Our California law firm advances the costs of the probate and is reimbursed by the estate at the end of the probate so that you, personally, do not have to advance any funds.  After the Judge signs the initial Order for Probate, an estate account can be established to repay the family for the funeral expenses.

Probate a Will or Intestate Probate

Probate can be commenced either with or without a Will. If there is no Will, it is called an intestate estate.

To probate a valid Will, including a holographic Will, our probate attorney prepares and files the petition for probate, duties of the personal representative, notice to of the probate to the beneficiaries named in the Will or the heirs of the intestate estate and other required documents.  Some of these forms can be found at the San Francisco Probate Court and from the California courts Our California probate lawyer will attach a copy of the Will to the petition for probate and lodge the original Will with the court and arrange for publication of the notice of probate.  The Probate Court will assign a hearing date to appoint the Executor named in the Will and we prepare the other documents needed.  Any power of attorney is no longer legally valid; only the executor has the power to administer the decedent’s estate.

If the decedent died without a Will or if no Will or Trust can be found, the probate estate will be distributed according to intestate law and the probate judge will appoint an Administrator who will act as the personal representative.  The administrator appointed may be one of the beneficiaries who will perform the same duties as an executor such as gathering assets and identifying the creditors of the decedent’s estate.

The Executor or the Administrator assists the estate attorneys in identifying the creditors and family members who receive notice of the probate proceeding and will sign the documents prepared by our San Francisco attorney for filing with the probate court.

After our probate lawyer files the probate petition, we notify the creditors, family members and beneficiaries both by mail and by newspaper publication that the probate has commenced.  The probate code requires a notice period of 120 days from the date on which the Letters are issued and the notice to creditors is sent before filing the petition for final distribution.  During this time, the attorney and the executor or administrator work together to pay creditors and prepare an Inventory and accounting of the probate estate.  If some of the assets need to be sold in order to distribute the proceeds or pay federal and state taxes, then our probate attorney and executor or administrator work together to accomplish this task.  The fees paid to the executor or administrator and the estate lawyers are paid by the estate, are a fixed fee schedule proscribed by statute, and must be approved by the Probate Judge.  Once the probate accounting has been approved by the probate court, the net amount of the estate is distributed to the beneficiaries and the probate proceeding is closed.

Estate Taxes

Estate tax is determined on the size of the estate and the year in which the decedent died.  There is no estate tax filing requirement for estates valued at $5,450,000 or less if the decedent died in 2016.   The IRS web site has more detailed information on this issue and we can provide a free consultation to you.

Trust With Assets Not Funded Into the Trust

If the decedent had a Trust but all of the assets such as real estate were not recorded as property in the Trust estate as of the date of death, our estate attorneys can file a Heggstad petition with the probate court to request that those omitted assets, including real property, be included as trust property in order to avoid probating those assets.  Unclaimed property claims for the decedent are sent to the State of California Unclaimed Property.

2. Probate Litigation and Beneficiary Claims

If you are a beneficiary or a creditor with questions about probate or if the estate is already in probate and is not progressing in a manner that you think is appropriate, our California probate litigation attorneys can represent your interests. In order to minimize your legal fees, the estate lawyer at Mayo & Mayo will first attempt to negotiate a compromise for all parties before commencing litigation, however, if litigation is required, we have extensive experience litigating beneficiary interests and defending trustees.

The California lawyers of Mayo & Mayo can determine if a lawsuit is required and represent you with

– Beneficiary disputes

– Creditor claims in a probate or trust

– Trustee or Executor issues including breach of fiduciary duty and failure to provide an accounting to the beneficiaries

Often the executors make simple mistakes in attempting to distribute the estate without a competent attorney or the trustees are unaware of  their legal obligations under trust law. Our estate attorney can represent you, the Trustee, and resolve these problems as well as beneficiary disputes.  If not, Mayo & Mayo can file suit on your behalf in order to obtain a proper accounting and estate distribution to the beneficiaries.  If you are an executor or a trustee, we can assist in responding quickly to beneficiary demands for notice, accounting and distribution.

3. Creditor Claims

If you are a creditor of a decedent, California attorneys Mayo & Mayo can provide legal advice to you.  In order to minimize your legal fees, Mayo & Mayo will attempt to negotiate a compromise for all parties first before commencing litigation, however, if litigation is required, we have extensive experience litigating creditor interests.  You have a limited time in which to file your creditor claim and if your creditor claim is not paid or if it is rejected, you have 90 days to file a civil lawsuit to protect your creditor claim.

4. Mediation

San Francisco attorney Mary Mayo is also a certified California Mediator proficient in mediating probate and trust disputes between the executor, administrator, trustee and beneficiaries.  Estate distribution, will contest, trust contest and real estate related issues are issues that often benefit with alternative dispute resolution so that the estate can avoid the expense of a trial.

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Mayo & Mayo Law Firm Conference Room 114 Sansome St, Suite 280, San Francisco, CA 94104 415-397-3713