In Orange County, CA, it’s not legally required for you to hire a probate lawyer after the passing of a loved one, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea. For one thing, an Orange County probate attorney will have a lot of insight into the process, which is something most folks just don’t have. After all, the probate lawyer works with probate cases all the time, is up-to-date on the most current laws, and has a pretty good idea of how to streamline the process as much as possible.
Hiring an Orange County probate lawyer is a good idea for another reason, too: If you do something wrong in the proceedings, the liability is on you. Considering all the complicated paperwork, financial responsibilities and time-sensitive deadlines, a lot of folks just don’t want to take on that kind of responsibility. Additionally, the person in charge of an estate (the Executor) is often dealing with his or her own grief and doesn’t want the additional stress of the job.
That said, plenty of estates can go through probate without a lawyer. If all of the decedent’s assets can be transferred outside of probate, then a probate lawyer wouldn’t be necessary. Cases like that might include assets that are held in joint tenancy, or those that have a named beneficiary, such as an insurance policy or retirement account.
It’s up to the individual in charge to determine if or when professional advice is needed. Some circumstances where this might happen could include:
- Family members threatening to contest a will
- Business dealings that weren’t complete when the decedent passed away
- The need for a guardian for a minor or disabled adult
- A shortfall of assets to cover debts owed by the estate
- There are complications with the taxes
- Assets were not properly owned by an existing trust
If the situation isn’t overly complex, you may only need an Orange County probate attorney to consult with you or review a few documents. A couple of hours of the attorney’s time might be all you need to ensure that you’ve got everything in proper order. On the other hand, if things start looking particularly complicated, it’s a good idea to gather up all your materials and sit down with an experienced probate lawyer in Orange County for your own protection and your family’s peace of mind.