Orange County Probate

As an Orange County Probate Lawyer, we are often asked what is probate? When a California resident dies, the decedent’s estate goes into what is known as “probate.” Probate is a legal term to describe the Orange County Probate court’s supervision of the administration of the decedent’s estate. During this process, the Orange County Probate Court will appoint a person to be in charge of the decedent’s estate. This person may be called the executor or administrator depending on whether the decedent died testate or intestate as discussed below. The Orange County Probate Court will also require notice to the decedent’s family members, heirs and creditors of the decedent’s estate. After the decedent’s debts have been paid, the Orange County Probate Court will issue an order to distribute the decedent’s assets pursuant to the decedent’s will, or if none, pursuant to the laws of intestacy.

What is the difference between testate and intestate in Orange County, CA?

Testate means the decedent died with a valid will. Intestate means the decedent died without a valid will. If a decedent dies with a valid will, the decedent’s estate will be distributed pursuant to the terms of the will. If a decedent dies without a valid will, the decedent’s estate will be distributed pursuant to the law of intestacy. The distribution of the decedent’s assets pursuant to the laws of intestacy depend on the make up of the decedent’s family and the character of the decedent’s assets. The assets may be distributed to the spouse, children, parents, siblings, more remote family members, or a combination of those family members.

What is the difference between an Executor and Administrator?

The person named in the decedent’s will that is appointed is called the “Executor.” If there is no will, the person in charge of the decedent’s estate is called the “Administrator.” There are other more obscure names for special situations.

How long does and Orange County Probate take?

Even for the most simple of estates, an Orange County Probate can take anywhere from a year to two years to complete. During this time, your family may be left with no assets for their support, and there may not be available assets for the upkeep or maintenance of your other assets (e.g. mortgages on your home or other real estate). Your family may be forced to sell certain property at a discounted rate to avoid foreclosure.

How much does an Orange County Probate cost?

As you can imagine, the Orange County Probate Court charges extremely high fees. Generally, the filing fees, cost of bond, publication and appraisal fees will exceed $3,000. When you add the cost of Executor fees and attorney’s fees which are determined by the value of the estate, the cost is substantially higher.

Knowing this, many residents of Orange County, California look for ways to avoid probate costs and the lengthy probate procedure.

Contact an Orange County Probate Lawyer

The probate process is complicated, but each Orange County Probate Lawyer of Modern Wealth Law can help. Often times there are ways to avoid probate, either before or after the death of a loved one. Give us a call at (949) 371-5003 to schedule an initial consultation, or if you prefer, email us by contacting John L. Wong, an Orange County Probate Lawyer. We also serve clients throughout Orange County and Los Angeles County with offices in both Costa Mesa and Century City.

Probate Resource Links

Probate FAQ
Nolo’s Free Dictionary of Legal Terms
Self-Help Probate Information
California Probate Code
Probate Court Services
The Probate Process
The Superior Court of California: Local Forms
Rules of Court

Probate Articles and Information

Why Avoid Probate?
California Probate: An Overview
Probate Shortcuts in California
Estates, Executors and Probate Court
Wills, Estates and Probate
CNN Money – 101 Estate Planning