Estate planning and planning for probate are not tasks that very many people look forward to. Not only does estate planning force us to face our own mortality, but it requires that we make decisions that can sometimes be difficult to make. Since only about a third of all American adults have an estate plan, you can imagine how many of us put off making these decisions—sometimes until it’s too late. If you die without an estate plan, the state of California will probate your assets under its intestacy laws. What this means is that your assets may end up going to those you would not choose. Equally alarming, if you were to become incapacitated through an accident or illness and you had no estate plan in place, who would make medical and financial decisions on your behalf?
While no one ever expects incapacitation or severe disability, life takes unexpected turns. Once you have spoken to attorney Eric Gullotta and his skilled legal team regarding an estate and probate plan, you will be amazed at the relief you feel to have this burden taken away from you. You can rest easy, knowing your loved ones will be properly protected in the event of your death or incapacity. Regardless of the size of your estate or your current situation in life, you could likely benefit from having an estate plan.
As we age, our thoughts naturally turn to our loved ones. How will they be cared for when the inevitable happens? Who will ensure that our wishes are carried out after we are gone? If you don’t provide an official plan with the help of an estate planning attorney serving Rohnert Park, the state of California will decide how your assets will be distributed. Your family will face a lengthy, expensive probate process if you fail to plan ahead. When you prepare an estate plan with attorney Eric Gullotta, you provide for your family’s future and protect what is most important to you without putting your family through the extensive troubles of the legal system.
Eric Gulotta is a highly respected probate attorney serving Rohnert Park who works with Sonoma County families to create plans that focus on what matters most. He believes that estate planning should be easy and that no one should feel intimidated when making some of life’s most important choices. Call Eric at (707) 938-7234 for professional and courteous services that make estate planning stress-free.
At Gullotta Law Group in Rohnert Park, We Believe Estate Planning Should Be Easy
An estate plan is of utmost importance regardless of how much money you have. When prepared properly, a plan ensures your best wishes are carried out, your assets (including vehicles, bank accounts, property, and investments) are fairly distributed, and the groundwork for making life’s most difficult choices is in place.
Many residents of Rohnert Park are intimidated by estate planning. Nobody likes thinking about life after they are gone. That’s why the Gullotta Law Group takes a different approach to planning. We focus on maintaining a positive atmosphere by taking the burden off of you and getting you and your family involved in the process. Instead of telling you what to do, we ask you about your wishes and transfer those wishes into legally binding documents. All of our services come at a flat fee, so you are never watching the clock or afraid to ask questions.
You may wonder how our unique flat fee pricing works. While most attorneys charge by the hour—potentially making you rush through meetings and fail to get answers to important questions—we do things differently. Our fixed-fee package affords you the following services:
- Unlimited initial planning time with Attorney Eric Gullotta so we can ensure we know what you want in an estate plan and that all your questions are answered in a thorough, easy-to-understand manner.
- Unlimited emails and phone calls, as well as additional face-to-face time with Eric to ensure we are all on the same page
- A 30-minute follow-up meeting after all the documents are signed should any new questions arise
- Support for your loved ones after you pass. When you have an estate plan done by attorney Eric Gullotta, you will receive a certificate for a free, one-hour consultation that includes your successor trustee and/or executor of your will.
Attorney Eric S. Gullotta is a highly experienced estate planning and probate attorney, who is also a Certified Public Accountant with a master’s degree in taxation. Eric understands the tax issues involved in estate planning and probate cases that other attorneys can easily miss.
Estate Planning Services
California estate planning and probate law is nuanced and complex. Most people who try it on their own end up unsatisfied with the outcome and this puts your family in a very difficult situation once you are gone. We believe in working with our clients every step of the way to provide lighthearted yet professional services. Our services include:
- Health Care Directives
- Estate Planning (Including Tax Plans)
- Asset Distribution
- Estate Administration
- Wills and Trust
Why You Should Choose the Gullotta Law Group for All Your Probate and Estate Planning Needs
Probate can be a complex, lengthy process. Many of those chosen as executors are entirely unprepared for the time and level of paperwork involved in probating a will. A probate attorney serving Rohnert Park from the Gullotta Law Group can help with every aspect of the probate process. First, Attorney Eric Gullotta will help you structure your estate plan so that probate is either unnecessary or your executor can get by with a very limited probate.
When a decedent does not leave an estate plan that minimizes the need for probate, Eric can either act in an advisory role throughout the probate process or can handle the entire probate, giving loved ones the time they need to grieve. Finally, when there are unexpected challenges to a will or other aspects of an estate plan, Eric can engage in probate litigation on behalf of the family members left behind.
What Is Probate?
Probate is a formal, legal process that recognizes the will left by a decedent and appoints the executor named in the will to administer the estate and distribute assets to named beneficiaries. In the event there is no will, probate must still be engaged in, the difference being that the probate court will name an executor and will distribute assets based on California intestacy laws. Whether probate is required or not, the basic job of administration and accounting for assets must be done whether the estate is being probated or whether probate has been avoided because assets were either jointly owned or were transferred to a living trust.
Is it Possible to Avoid Probate?
There are ways that probate can be avoided in many cases—unless the decedent had minor children, in which case, naming a guardian for the children must be done via a will, and the will would then need to be probated. In the state of California, the ways that probate can be avoided include the following:
- The creation of a living trust
- Real estate transfer-on-death deeds
- Joint ownership of assets
- Bank accounts with payable-on-death designations
- Transfer-on-death registration for securities
- Vehicle transfer-on-death registrations
- Assets worth less than $184,500
Does Probate Take a Long Time?
Probate can take several months, more than a year, or in some cases, years. The length of time that probate will take will depend on how complex the estate is, whether there is a will or other estate plan in place, and whether there are challenges to the will or other aspects of the estate plan. Having an experienced probate attorney serving Rohnert Park from the Gullotta Law Group can significantly minimize the time probate will take.
What Happens in Probate Court?
Following the death of an individual, the named executor in the will must appear in the probate court with the will and a certified death certificate and ask the court to open the probate process. If there is no will, an interested party can ask the court to be named as executor, or the court may appoint an executor. Once the probate has been opened, the executor or the probate attorney will complete the following tasks:
- All interested parties will be notified of the probate
- Assets will be inventoried and secured, including bank accounts, vehicles, real estate, collections, personal property, and more
- Appraisals will be ordered when necessary
- Life insurance policies will be identified and collected on
- For complex estates, a tax accountant will be asked to prepare the decedent’s final income and estate tax returns or the executor will prepare the final tax returns for the decedent and the estate
- Creditors will be notified, then all debts will be paid
- All necessary documents will be prepared and filed
- Beneficiaries will receive assets as stated in the will, or under California intestacy laws
- The probate will be closed
What Does a Probate Lawyer Do?
Probate lawyers can help as little or as much as needed during the probate process. A probate lawyer who also acts as an estate planning lawyer can help those who engage in estate planning minimize the necessity for probate after they are gone. A probate attorney generally handles the process of estate administration following a death—or assists the named executor with the probate—preparing legal documents for probate court. The specific probate tasks will depend on the complexity of the estate, whether the decedent had a will, and whether there are challenges to the estate. Attorney Eric Gullotta from the Gullotta Law Group can assist with your probate issue as much or as little as you choose.
How a Probate Attorney Serving Rohnert Park From the Gullotta Law Group Can Help
If you need assistance with the probate process following the death of a loved one, the Gullotta Law Group can help. We can also help you plan your estate so that your loved ones are not required to deal with probate, or only in a very limited way.
Our personal, courteous, and tactful legal services will take the uncertainty, stress, and intimidation out of one of life’s most difficult processes. Our clients range from single parents wishing to secure their children’s future to high-net worth individuals who need to create complex plans to distribute assets.
Regardless of how much money you have, an estate planning attorney serving Rohnert Park from the Gullotta Law Group can help secure the future of you and your family. Our office is standing by to answer all of your questions. Call us today at (707) 938-7234 to receive your FREE case evaluation. Now is the best time to plan for tomorrow.