I have probate notes, do I need a probate lawyer?
Probate notes are a normal part of the probate administration process. When you file your Petition for Probate, the probate examiner may issue “probate notes” that ask for additional information or clarification. Then it’s your job to file a supplement to answer the examiner’s questions. In many cases, it makes sense to hire a probate lawyer to handle the administration for you. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why.
What are probate notes?
Probate notes are simply questions and requests for additional information regarding your Petition for Probate. When you file your Petition for Probate with your County Probate Court, the Petition will be reviewed by a county probate examiner. If the examiner has questions about the information on your petition, they will request clarification or more information via a “probate note.” When you receive probate notes, as many petitions do, it’s your job to answer them by filing a Probate Supplement.
What is a probate supplement?
A probate supplement is the way to respond to the probate examiner’s question. You complete the probate supplement form, and add it to your case file. It’s best to file the probate supplement well BEFORE your hearing date at your county probate court. Why? If you file your probate supplement before your in-person hearing, then the probate judge can review your supplement prior to the hearing, which gives you a better chance of having your petition granted and a continued hearing avoided.
Can I file a probate supplement myself?
Yes, you can file a probate supplement yourself. If you live in Los Angeles County, you can download the probate supplement form for LASC-Probate Division by clicking here. If you live in Orange County, you can download the probate supplement for The Superior Court of California County of Orange by clicking here.
When do I need a probate lawyer?
If the value of the estate is over $150,000, or the estate owns real property (e.g. house, condo, commercial property, etc.) then the estate must go through probate. You always have the option to self-administer probate or retain a probate lawyer, regardless of the value of the estate. However, as the value of the estate escalates and becomes more complex, it typically becomes advantageous to retain a probate lawyer for several reasons:
- Time: Probating a high-value estate demands a significant amount of time. The typical timeframe for self-administering an estate can be substantially longer, which only increases costs and frustration for the heirs of the estate, which could subject you to adverse claims when all you are trying to do is your best.
- Complexity: As the number of estate assets and liabilities increases, the value of the estate and its exposure escalates, and the number of heirs or beneficiaries grows, it becomes a demanding task to account for everything and to everyone in the probate process. Many of the steps of self-administering the estate will be new to the executor, who often is busy with their own lives and may not have time to dedicate to the demands of handling a probate.
- Risk: As the value of the estate escalates and the number of interested parties grows, it becomes more likely that a dispute will arise and litigation may ensue. An experienced probate attorney who knows the process can help anticipate and handle these risks.
What does a probate lawyer do?
A probate lawyer handles the entire probate administration process for the executor of the estate, including:
- Filing the Petition for Probate
- Clearing probate notes by filing supplements
- Appearing in probate court (you do not need to appear unless told otherwise)
- Helping to open an estate account
- Handling creditor claims
- Managing real estate appraisals
- Managing the sale of real estate
- Distributing assets fairly to heirs and beneficiaries
- Preparing and filing the formal accounting and petition for final distribution with the court; and
- Closing the estate
How much does a probate lawyer cost?
Most probate lawyers cost you nothing out of pocket. Typically, probate lawyer fees are paid by the estate, at the close of probate. While there are some probate lawyers who will ask for an upfront fee, there are other options. At RMO Lawyers, our services typically cost our probate administration clients nothing out of pocket–and all fees are instead paid by the estate.
Do I need a probate lawyer near me?
We recommend finding an experienced probate lawyer familiar with the county probate court in the county where the estate is located. For example, if the beneficiary lives in San Diego, yet the decedent lived in Los Angeles, we recommend working with a probate lawyer in Los Angeles. A Los Angeles trust lawyer will generally be more familiar with the Los Angeles Superior Court Probate Division, versus an out of state attorney.
About RMO Lawyers, LLP
RMO LLP serves clients in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Orange County, San Diego, Kansas City, Miami, and communities throughout California, Florida, Missouri and Kansas. Our founder, Scott E. Rahn has been named “Top 100 – Trust and Estate Litigation” by SuperLawyers, Trusts and Estates Litigator of the Year, and Best Lawyers in America for Litigation – Trusts and Estates. For a free consultation, call (424) 320-9444 or visit: https://rmolawyers.com