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Probate & Probate Litigation

Probate Attorneys in Lancaster

After someone passes away, the last will and testament that they have left behind will need to go through probate. While this process can be fairly straight forward, it often becomes complicated and convoluted as people attempt to go through probate on their own. To help you avoid commonplace mistakes and obstacles, or to attempt to avoid probate processes altogether, you should team up with a Lancaster probate attorney from the Law Offices of Michelizzi, Schwabacher, Ward & Ward. Founded in 1952, we have been providing clients with a wide variety of beneficial legal services since then, including probate services.

Contact us today if you have any questions about wills, trusts, and probate.

What is the Probate Process?

Reviewing a will and the estate of a decedent is not a process that can be attempted without following strict guidelines. How well a will is interpreted can weigh heavily on an inheritor’s standard of living and livelihood in the years to come, so it is important to use proper probate procedures. If something is skipped or overlooked, the probate process could be extended, increasing the amount of time an inheritor must wait to receive assets.

The probate process can be broken down into five steps:

  1. Validation: Before a will can be seriously reviewed, it must be proven to be authentic. Unless there are some unusual circumstances surrounding the passing of the testator – the person whose will is being reviewed – this should be as straightforward as validating signatures on the will itself.
  2. Inventory: All the property of the decedent will need to be identified and properly inventoried. This can include everything from family heirlooms and businesses to real estate and savings accounts.
  3. Appraisal: Once the property has been catalogued, it must be accurately appraised by an expert. This is arguably the most important step of probate, as it will ultimately determine the true value of the estate.
  4. Payments: Did the testator leave behind debts and unpaid taxes as well as their property? California State law requires that these be addressed first and foremost, which means that the IRS or a creditor could collect a significant portion of the estate, even if it was assigned as inheritance to someone in your family.
  5. Distribution: When everything has been appraised and all debts are paid off, distribution to named inheritors can finally begin. If there is an important piece of the estate not named in the will, state law must be followed to determine who inherits it.

Executors in Probate Procedures

While hiring a probate attorney is always a wise choice, there must always be an executor to oversee the process. The executor will be named in the will, and if they are not, California State law will choose an executor. Typically the closest next of kin or the decedent’s spouse will be selected. If you have been named as the executor, know that you have assumed a great deal of responsibility but also know your probate lawyer can shoulder those responsibilities for you. The other good news is that if the estate is valued under $100,000, you can have the will avoid probate altogether.

Ready for Probate? We’re Ready to Help!

When you want to make certain that your loved one’s will does not get stuck in probate, you will want to work with us.

Call us at 661.584.4282 for legal help in Antelope Valley!

Call for a Consultation661.584.4282
The Law Office of MSWC Law Offices of Michelizzi, Schwabacher, Ward & Ward
Lancaster Attorney
767 West Lancaster Boulevard
Lancaster, CA 93534
Phone: (661) 584-4282 | Local Phone: (661) 948-5021.

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