Probate occurs when a person has passed on, as a process overseen by the California probate courts. The assets of those with a will as well as those without a will must go through probate court before they can be distributed to the rightful heirs. The primary difference will be that a person with a will can choose who they want their assets to go to, while a person without a will is subject to the intestate succession laws of the state that will determine who will inherit.
Unfortunately, thinking about a will or an estate plan is something few adults look forward to, therefore, they put these tasks off as long as possible. Sometimes, they put them off to the point that it is too late, and the state steps in. You, like most people, may not want your assets going to those the state would give them to. This in itself is reason enough to have an estate plan prepared, but there are many more equally good reasons.
Your estate plan can include a document that will name a person of your choice to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated. You can also choose specific trust documents that will benefit your heirs and ensure that you have designated beneficiaries on things like life insurance and retirement funds. Having an experienced probate attorney serving Sebastopol from the Gullotta Law Group can make estate planning and the probate process as easy and painless as possible.
Probate Attorney Serving Sebastopol
If you pass on without a will or estate plan, everything you own is dispersed according to state law. The best interests of you and your family are not taken into account unless you engage in a lengthy and expensive legal process known as probate. When the unavoidable occurs, how can you be sure the future of your family is secure? If you are facing probate, it’s important to speak with a probate attorney serving Sebastopol.
An estate plan created with the help of an estate planning attorney in Sebastopol places the best interests of your loved ones front and center rather than government bureaucracy. It provides clear directives for your money, investments, and material items so you can be certain that your voice is heard long after you’ve passed on.
Eric Gullotta is a trusted Sebastopol probate lawyer who offers compassionate, lighthearted, and personalized counseling services. The Gullotta Law Group first focuses on the individual client, then uses the current California laws to create a comprehensive estate plan that takes probate into account. Unlike many estate planning attorneys, Eric Gullotta acts as a trusted advisor who carries out your wishes and guides your family members through the probate process. Every client receives a custom, family-first plan. Give Eric Gullotta a call at (707) 938-7234. Our office is standing by to answer any questions you may have.
Gain Peace of Mind With the Gullotta Law Group in Sebastopol
Estate planning is one of life’s most stressful processes. Thinking about your family’s life without you comes with a lot of uncertainty. That’s one of the main reasons more than half a million Americans pass away each year without a will or estate plan. Estate planning can seem stressful—but it doesn’t have to be.
While estate planning is something few of us want to think about, a little planning now can make a huge difference for your loved ones in the future. At the Gullotta Law Group, we strive to ensure you are not overly burdened with the creation of your estate plan and that your family members will not be burdened with the administration of the estate plan after you are gone. We will ask you relevant questions and then translate your wishes into a legal, comprehensive estate plan. While the thought of estate planning may not fill you with excitement, it can be extremely comforting to know that Eric Gullotta and his experienced legal team have your back and will work hard to achieve your desired outcome.
The Gullotta Law group understands the person and family behind each will. We go above and beyond to make your experience as stress-free as possible. There is no feeling quite like gaining peace of mind. You’ll be relaxed and happy throughout your entire visit. You might even find yourself laughing! That doesn’t mean we aren’t professional, though. There’s a reason the Sonoma Valley Sun turns to Eric Gullotta to give all of Sonoma County advice on estate planning!
Overview of Probate Areas Handled by the Gullotta Law Group
When you choose Eric Gullotta and the Gullotta Law Group, we will handle a wide variety of probate issues on behalf of you and your loved ones. Losing a loved one is difficult and emotional for many reasons. Those left behind must make funeral and burial arrangements, as well as handling the estate of the decedent. The probate process can be complex and lengthy, and if you don’t want your loved ones navigating the difficult process alone, the Gullotta Law Group can help.
First, we can help you plan for probate as you work through your estate plan. We can assist you in choosing an executor who will handle the probate, we can agree to guide that person through probate, or we can handle the probate for your estate entirely. There are things we can do when helping you with your estate plan that will allow your loved ones to have only a minimal level of probate tasks or, in some cases, avoid probate all together.
If you want us to administer the probate process entirely, we will handle all the tasks, from start to finish. Your family members will be able to focus on working through their grief, knowing the legalities are being taken care of. If there are any challenges to your estate plan, attorney Eric Gullotta can also handle any necessary probate litigation, always ensuring your original wishes are properly carried out.
Why Do You Need an Estate Plan?
Estate planning involves difficult decisions, creativity, and a great deal of nuance. One wrong word and the entire message can be missed. As a skilled probate attorney serving Sebastopol, Eric Gullotta can help you with any of the challenges you and your family are facing:
- Advanced Health Care Directives
- Distribution of Assets (Money, Vehicles, Property, Etc.)
- Estate Administration
- Estate Planning (Including Tax Minimization)
- Wills & Trust
- Powers of Attorney
Probate is the legal process that closes out an individual’s estate following his or her death. Probate typically takes months to complete, although probate for more complex estates can last well over a year. If there are challenges to the will, no will exists, or there are business interests or holdings in other states or countries, probate will definitely take longer than a few months.
Probate is generally required any time a person dies, although there are ways you can structure your estate plan so that probate is avoided altogether. Implementing trusts can help avoid probate, and any property held jointly does not require probate. In the state of California, if an estate is worth $166,250 or less (both real estate and personal property), probate may be avoided as well. The probate steps are generally as follows:
- Probate is “opened” by the named executor or an individual named by the court.
- The death certificate and the will, if it exists, are presented to the court and the court will authenticate the Last Will and Testament.
- The executor notifies all interested parties (beneficiaries) as well as any creditors with a financial interest in the estate.
- All assets are inventoried, and appraisals are ordered when necessary.
- The decedent’s debts are paid in full and final tax returns—including individual, business, and estate—are filed with all taxes paid.
- Assets are distributed to beneficiaries, either in accordance with the terms of the will or under California intestate law.
- The estate is closed, and a petition is filed with the court to officially dissolve the estate. Once this step is complete, the estate details become a matter of public record.
What Is Ancillary Probate?
Ancillary probate is usually necessary when there is property owned by the decedent in another state or country. If this is the case, a probate proceeding will be required in addition to the primary probate proceeding that takes place in the state of California. The probate court in California might have no legal jurisdiction over property situated elsewhere.
Can Probate Be Avoided?
Probate can be avoided in some instances, usually through the use of trusts, or because the estate meets the requirements under California law for a “small” estate. If you want to avoid probate for your loved ones, it is essential that you speak to a knowledgeable probate attorney serving Sebastopol from the Gullotta Law Group.
Our experienced attorney and legal team will take a comprehensive look at your estate, including any out-of-state assets you might have, and determine whether a specific type of trust could fully meet your needs without the requirement of probate. We can also help you designate beneficiaries for life insurance and retirement funds so these assets can avoid probate, and if you are married, we will ensure your assets are titled correctly to avoid probate. If you have minor children, you will need a will to name a guardian for the children, however, probate in this case would be relatively quick and painless.
How Much Could Probate Cost?
In the state of California, probate attorney fees and executor fees are set by statute, under California Probate Code Sections 10800 and 10810. These fees are based on the gross value of the estate. As of 2023, these fees are as follows:
- 4% on the first $100,000
- 3% on the next $100,000
- 2% on the next $800,000
- 1% on the next $9 million
- 0.5% on the next $15 million
Estates valued at more than $25 million will have reasonable compensation amounts determined by the court. The attorney and executor are entitled to receive the same fee structure for their services. There may also be probate filing fees, and in some cases additional compensation if the court deems the attorney has provided “extraordinary services.”
Hiring a Probate Attorney Serving Sebastopol From the Gullotta Law Group
You might think that financial planning is only for the wealthy, but the truth is anyone can benefit from an estate plan. Regardless of how much money you have, the uncertainty and bureaucracy will only make an already difficult time more trying.
When you have a highly experienced probate attorney from the Gullotta Law Group helping you through the probate process, we will prepare all necessary documents, make court appearances on your behalf, and provide access to any professionals needed to achieve an efficient probate proceeding.
The Gullotta Law Group will create a custom plan in accordance with your wishes that will give you and your family peace of mind for years to come. If you want to secure your family’s future, contact the most trusted estate planning attorney in Sebastopol. Call Eric Gullotta today at (707) 938-7234 for your FREE consultation.