Handling Probate - Without an Attorney

Laguna Niguel estate planning attorney

The probate process is known for being long and tedious. However, some people go through probate without having a lawyer help them through the process. While it is possible to handle probate yourself, a skilled Laguna Niguel estate planning attorney can make the process faster, easier, and less stressful.

Below, we'll discuss what probate is and what it's like to handle your own case in court.

What is Probate?

Probate is a legal process that determines how to distribute assets to the beneficiaries after a person dies. During a probate case, the court will review the will and ensure that it is valid. The court names an executor, and that person is responsible for dividing the assets and carrying out the terms of the will.

Wills are sometimes challenged by the beneficiaries, which adds another step to the process. Family members may challenge the court rulings, arguing that they deserve more or deserve a particular asset. If this occurs, the court will assess the situation and settle it according to local probate law.

If there is no will, the court will use local inheritance laws to determine how they should divide assets among family members. For many families, these standardized laws don't fit their realities, which can cause conflict and lead to disputes.

Many factors can affect what probate looks like and how long the process takes. The larger and more complex the estate, the longer it will take to settle the case.

Is It Possible to Avoid Probate?

It is possible to avoid probate, but generally, this needs to be done ahead of time as part of the estate planning process.

Living trusts, for example, are a popular way to ensure the smooth transfer of assets upon the trust creator's death. This means that beneficiaries can access their inheritance as quickly as possible.

Putting assets into retirement accounts and life insurance policies can also serve as a kind of asset protection that allows you to skip probate. Surviving spouses can inherit property seamlessly without months or years of deliberation in court.

Small estate procedures are designed to let some people skip costly, time-consuming probate court. In California, estates with a value under $184,500 aren't subject to probate. Instead, beneficiaries can claim assets with an affidavit, which is simpler and cheaper to obtain.

Creating an advanced estate plan is often worth it for high-net-worth individuals. Tax planning will help you minimize estate tax and other fees. In this situation, working with a skilled estate planning attorney can save you significant amounts of money.

Business succession planning and other types of estate plans will make things much easier for your friends, family members, and business partners in the event of your death. Planning for the future is one of the best gifts you can give your loved ones.

Can You Handle Probate Alone?

It is possible to handle probate without an attorney. But, the reason most people hire a lawyer from a probate law firm is that they can rely on them to handle mishaps and legal issues with a high level of expertise.

Probate law also branches out into several related practice areas, including real estate law, trust litigation, and more. Your familiarity with probate may not be of much help when these issues come into play.

Handling your probate case requires a bit of time and effort. You'll need to fill out paperwork on your own, make time to appear at hearings and more. Since you're not as familiar with the law, you'll likely make some minor or major mistakes. Because the court system moves slowly, these problems can cost you valuable time.

If your family is waiting for their inheritance to handle the deceased person's affairs, for example, setbacks can be frustrating. Finding a professional law corporation in Laguna Niguel, CA can save you plenty of time and stress.

How Does Working with a Lawyer Make Probate Easier?

Probate law is complex and varies from state to state and even between cities, making it difficult to find a one-size-fits-all guide.

Estate planning lawyers serving Laguna Niguel can assist you in planning out your will and other legal documents. Careful planning can even help with avoiding probate altogether.


If you aren't familiar with the law, it can be tough to keep track of all the lengthy, complicated forms and information needed during probate. Making small errors in your paperwork can set your case back by weeks, sending you back to square one and causing frustration.

Probate administration is a complex task that may lead to more than a few late nights. When you are already grieving a loss, you may not have the time or energy to be your own probate attorney.


Any court case can take up a lot of your time and conflict with your schedule. Between scheduling hearings, making mistakes on forms, and other mishaps, handling probate on your own can start to feel like a second job.

Even with a lawyer's help, probate can take a year or even longer, depending on the situation. Without legal guidance from a probate attorney, it could drag on for even longer.

Tax Benefits

If your goal is to save money, you may be surprised at the little-known options you have to reduce taxes and fees. Attorneys can help you take full advantage of them.

Your estate planning lawyer can alert you to options that will help you save on taxes and other fees. For example, charitable trusts can help decrease your estate tax.

Make the Probate Process Easier with Parker Law Office

A trust attorney in Orange County can help you find the perfect way to handle your assets, including asset protection trusts, special needs trusts, and more. At Parker Law Offices, we specialize in probate and estate planning law. We provide legal services throughout Orange County, from Dana Point to Newport Beach.

Schedule a free consultation today! During the consultation, you'll speak to a Laguna Niguel estate planning attorney from our law firm and learn more about your legal options. We offer customized solutions for our Orange County clients.

To get started, fill out our online form or contact us at 949-867-4818 at Parker Law Offices today!

Maria Parker assists her clients plan for their end of life health care wishes and the ultimate distribution of their wealth after death. She personally experienced the importance of planning at the time her father passed away.

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