As you make plans for your estate assets, you may be wondering whether your estate will be subject to probate. A trust attorney in Orange County can help you set up a trust and find other solutions that allow your loved ones to avoid or streamline the probate process.

Probate can be a long, expensive procedure, and avoiding it can make things easier for your loved ones. Below, we'll discuss estates that are exempt from probate and how you can qualify for a probate alternative.

How Does Probate Work?

Probate is a legal process that allows the court to review a deceased person's estate and determine how to divide it among beneficiaries. It occurs whether or not a person has a will.

If the deceased person has a will, the probate court will assess it and determine if it is valid. If so, they will formally assign an executor for the decedent's estate, and that person will divide the estate assets accordingly.

When a person dies without a will, a California probate court will step in and make decisions about how to distribute their assets.

Some probate cases last for over a year, particularly if the case is complicated or if family members dispute the outcome. Probate issues can prove to be both frustrating and expensive—which is why it is worth it to plan ahead to avoid the court if at all possible.

Creating an estate plan with an Orange county probate lawyer can save your loved ones time and money—allowing them the opportunity to grieve in peace after your death.

Is Probate a Mandatory Process?

Probate is required for most estates, but not all. In certain circumstances, California residents can petition for a simpler alternative to the formal probate process.

Many people seek this option because it can save them valuable time and money. Instead of dealing with legal issues and lengthy cases, you can submit an affidavit that will allow you to take legal ownership of your inherited assets.

A probate attorney in Orange County can help you identify ways to simplify your estate so your loved ones can inherit your property quickly and painlessly. Instead of hiring probate lawyers, they will be able to grieve and settle your affairs in peace.

How Can You Avoid Probate?

Simply creating an estate plan doesn't allow you to avoid Orange County probate court, although it's a good start. Wills and other documents do not exempt you from the process.

The court makes an exception for surviving spouses, small estates, property in trusts, and anything that falls outside of probate jurisdiction.

Through careful estate planning and working with an Orange County probate attorney, you can avoid probate altogether. Your attorney can also help you prepare the paperwork and settle legal matters as they arise.

Surviving Spousal Property Petitions

Spouses and domestic partners can often skip probate and instead automatically inherit personal property. With items like furniture, clothing, and other personal effects, there's no need to submit any paperwork.

Real property that is owned with the right of survivorship will also transfer automatically to the surviving spouse. If there's a need to retitle the property, the spouse can submit an affidavit to complete the transfer.

For property without the right of survivorship, a spouse can submit a spousal property petition. Though this route does require some paperwork, it is still much faster than probate court. There's no limit to the value of the property that can be transferred this way, and it can be used for everything from real estate to stocks.

Small Estate Probate

In Orange County, CA, small estate probate procedures can expedite the process and make things much easier. Instead of going to court and hiring an attorney, beneficiaries can submit an affidavit for the transfer of property or real estate.

As of April 2022, a small estate is an estate that is worth less than $184,500. The court adjusts this cutoff for inflation every three years.

This limit may seem low. However, when calculating your assets to see whether you qualify for this option, you can exclude:

By excluding these assets, it is much easier to qualify for small estate probate procedures. Your probate attorney in Orange County can set up a trust for you and find other ways to ensure your estate qualifies for this path.


Trusts are a useful estate planning tool, and they have many benefits, including avoiding Orange Country probate. Trusts allow for automatic transfer of property ownership to the beneficiaries listed and they can be personalized to fit your unique financial and legal needs.

All assets contained in a trust are private, unlike property that is transferred via the will. Trusts also protect your assets from lawsuits, like personal injury cases where the claimant demands payment for damages. They also protect assets from creditor claims.

Probate attorneys may recommend a trust as the best option for your estate.

Designating a Beneficiary

Many financial accounts allow you to designate a beneficiary through the bank, and all of these accounts are exempt from probate.

Retirement accounts, bank accounts, life insurance policies, and other accounts can automatically transfer to beneficiaries upon the owner's death with no need for involvement from probate courts.

Hiring a Probate Attorney

At Parker Law Offices, we can take care of all your estate planning needs. Our senior attorney specializes in creating solid estate plans that allow for a seamless transfer of assets to beneficiaries.

We also help clients through the probate process and help them determine if they qualify for alternatives. With the help of a probate law firm, you can get a much better outcome, save money, and potentially reduce your estate taxes.To schedule your free consultation with a skilled probate attorney in Orange County, fill out our online form or contact us at 949-867-4818 at Parker Law Offices today!

Preparing for the future is one of the most important ways you can care for your loved ones. Creating a solid, valid will makes your final wishes clear and can save them serious time that would otherwise be spent trying to clear up your affairs. If you want to save your loved ones time and stress, consider working with a probate attorney in Orange County

Probate is notorious for taking a long time and resulting in high legal fees. If you set up your estate to avoid probate, your family will have an easier time settling your affairs and making funeral plans.

Here is how you can handle probate concerns with your will. 

What is a Probate?

Probate is a legal process that allows the court to oversee the management of a deceased person's estate. This includes the distribution of assets, payment of debts, and more. Depending on the size of the estate, what it includes, and its overall complexity—the process can take years. 

It has many steps, from first authenticating the will to locating the assets and determining their value. There are options if you wish to avoid this expensive and complex task, such as putting your assets into a trust fund or using retirement and bank accounts to hold your assets. 

Probate laws vary by state and area, which is why it's important to find a local California attorney to handle your case. 

What is a Will?

A will is an estate planning document that records a person's final wishes. It may include everything from burial instructions to gifting property to friends and loved ones. It may even include charitable donations. It can also designate guardianships for your minor children in the case of your death, assign power of attorney to a trusted person, and more.

Wills are designed to provide solid, legally valid instructions for the court and your loved ones to follow. Lawyers can help you draft a will that reflects your intentions clearly and effectively. Involving a lawyer reduces the chances of disputes or confusion later down the line.

A will isn't the only document you need for estate planning, but it's a good start and an essential component for most people.

When Probating a Will is Necessary

If you are new to estate planning and related topics, you may be wondering if probate is always necessary. The answer is that probate is often necessary before heirs can receive their inheritances or access the deceased's accounts to pay off bills.  

Local probate lawyers are generally the best people to answer your unique questions on this topic, but here we'll discuss a few common scenarios.  In most situations, a will must go through probate in order to assess its validity and assign an executor. 

The executor of a will is responsible for making sure that its terms are carried out. This person will often want to hire a probate attorney to make sure everything goes smoothly and that they are interpreting the will correctly.

Assets are Owned Under the Decedent’s Sole Name

Assets owned solely by the decedent will need to go through probate before they can be retitled in the beneficiaries' names. If there are no joint owners and there's no stated beneficiary for payable-on-death accounts, then probate is the solution. 

However, many states offer exceptions for small estates that are under a certain threshold. These can skip probate and instead go through a streamlined alternative. For example, if a house was owned solely by a father, it would need to go to probate before his children can have their names put on the deed.

Assets are Owned as a Tenant in Common

When property titles are shared among multiple people, distributing that property in a will or other estate plan can be tough. Probate steps in to handle this particular issue—the probate process will transfer a property share from the decedent to his heirs. 

However, it's possible to plan ahead for this situation. Placing a property share into a living trust, for example, allows the beneficiaries to skip probate and simply transition into ownership. 

No Designated Beneficiaries

In some situations, people create estate plans and either fail to name beneficiaries, or all their beneficiaries are deceased. 

This is most common when it comes to payable-on-death accounts, such as bank accounts, retirement accounts, and life insurance policies. Account owners are required to name beneficiaries. The probate court will distribute these accounts to the rightful beneficiaries according to local inheritance law.

The Decedent Didn’t Have a Last Will and Testament

When someone dies without a will or other estate planning documents, they are considered intestate. Without any legal documents to follow, the case will go directly to probate court. 

In court, a judge will divide the estate according to local law. The law tends to prioritize spouses and family members, and may not always reflect the wishes of the deceased person. 

Some people choose not to create a will for privacy reasons or to avoid probate. Wills are a matter of public record, and not all families want to publish details about their finances. Instead, they work with a trust attorney in Orange County to create a trust that will distribute their assets to beneficiaries smoothly and without probate.

Prepare Your Will with a Trusted Probate Attorney in Orange County

As you plan for the future, don't neglect estate planning. Working with a trusted attorney means you can plan for your unique financial situation and ensure that your assets are distributed as you want them. 

Creating a will is one of the most important steps you can take. A lawyer who specializes in estates will guide you through the process so you can avoid common pitfalls and make sure your will is clear and easy to carry out. 

Parker Law Offices is your go-to law firm for all estate planning matters. To schedule a free consultation with our probate attorney in Orange County, contact us at 949-867-4818 at Parker Law Offices today!

A probate is a legal process that can be expensive and tedious. It is designed to facilitate the transfer of a deceased person's assets. Many people aim to avoid probate altogether, while others hire a probate attorney in Orange County to help them navigate the process smoothly.

Probate lawyers can help you understand what this process looks like, how it will affect your loved ones, and whether or not you can avoid it.

Here's more information on how probate works and how the court processes wills.

An Overview of Probate

In order for a deceased person's estate to transfer legal ownership, it needs to go to probate court. This legal process allows beneficiaries to gain the legal title of real estate property and other assets.

When a person has an estate plan that includes a will and other documents, the court will use those to guide the probate case. The executor is expected to file the will with a probate court.

The court will make sure it is a valid will, then officially appoint the executor. This step is important because it gives the executor the legal authority needed to carry out their duties. In some cases, family members may challenge the will if they think it does not reflect the decedent's wishes.

Probate cases also settle the matter of any debts. If an estate doesn't go to a probate court, creditors may consider the beneficiaries responsible for those debts and seek repayment from them. Probate court proceedings are a matter of public record, which means that the details of your estate also become public—some clients wish to avoid this.

Crucially, probate also includes fees that can substantially affect the size of the estate you pass on to your loved ones. Many people hope to avoid probate and lawyer fees by skipping this step altogether.

If you are concerned about the process or want to make things easier for your beneficiaries, consider meeting with an Orange County probate lawyer. A legal professional can share more information about the probate process and potential legal issues that can arise.

What Does Probate Look Like When there's No Will?

When there is no will, probate courts step in to hash out the distribution and transfer of belongings. They will apply local inheritance law to determine how to distribute assets.

Since there is no will to guide the process, it may not reflect the wishes of a deceased person. Challenging the ruling in court may require you to spend more time remedying the legal situation.

In this situation, it's a good idea to get in touch with a probate law firm. During your initial consultation, you can discuss the details of your legal needs and they will inform you of the potential outcomes.

Does Every Will Go Through Probate?

Though most will go through the California probate process, not all of them do. In certain circumstances, estate assets can be exempt from the probate process. An experienced probate attorney can point out potential time-saving options that will help you skip probate court.

Spousal property petitions allow a surviving spouse to legally obtain ownership of property that has a formal title document. This is useful for real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, and other assets. Petitions tend to be faster and easier to complete than probate cases.

Small estate affidavits allow beneficiaries to collect property quickly. This shortcut is available in California for estates under $184, 500, but excludes real estate. If the real estate is worth less than $61, 500, you can file a separate affidavit specific to the real property.

As you work on estate planning, your lawyer can point out options that will allow your friends and family members to inherit your assets as smoothly as possible.

Can You Avoid Probate?

For many people, probate is an inconvenient process that prevents them from accessing their inheritance in a timely manner. If your goal is to avoid it, careful estate planning is your best option. Working with outstanding lawyers can save your beneficiaries money and ensure that your wealth is passed on without

Orange County probate lawyers can help you negotiate all the potential probate issues that can arise, from creditor claims to interpreting legal documents. They can handle all your probate needs smoothly and efficiently.

Assets contained in life insurance policies and retirement accounts are exempted from probate, as well as properties owned by joint tenancy. During your estate planning, you can aim to put as many assets as possible into accounts that won't require probate.

It's possible to do independent research on how to avoid probate, but a legal expert can help you determine which ones are most realistic for California residents.

Using a Trust to Avoid Probate

One of the best ways to avoid probate court is by using a trust to transfer the decedent's estate assets to beneficiaries. Assets kept in a trust are automatically transferred to the beneficiaries upon the trust creator's death. This means there's no need to deal with probate law and any of its inconveniences.

Trusts are complex documents, and they also offer plenty of flexibility. A revocable living trust is a popular way to pass on assets without running into legal issues.

A trust attorney in Orange County can assess your financial situation and help you create a trust that matches your unique financial needs. It's possible to add multiple beneficiaries, create stipulations to protect the family's wealth, and more.

Hire Orange County Probate Attorneys

Estate planning is a complex task, but it's worth the effort to ensure that you have your final affairs settled.

If avoiding probate is your goal, there are several options you can pursue with the help of an Orange County probate attorney. An attorney will prevent you from making costly mistakes related to this important legal issue.

When you need to hire a probate attorney in Orange County, you can count on Parker Law Offices. We will guide you through the legal process and keep you informed as the case develops.

For a free consultation with a legal expert familiar with Orange County probate court, contact us at 949-867-4818 at Parker Law Offices today!

If you have a beneficiary with a substance abuse problem, you may be concerned about leaving money to them, but with the help of an Orange County estate planning attorney, you can add provisions to your estate plan to limit that beneficiary’s access to their inheritance.

Creating an estate plan gives you the chance to make important decisions about what happens to your assets after your death. It is also possible to provide a more practical provision that will protect the beneficiary from wasting their money by establishing a special trust that will fund only their necessities.

Reasons To Limit Access To Assets

If you’re aware that a beneficiary of yours has substance abuse issues, it’s in that person’s best interest for you to limit their access to funds. A sudden large distribution from a trust could quickly be spent on drugs, enabling your beneficiary's addiction and potentially allowing them to squander large amounts of money. 

Someone with substance abuse issues might not have the capacity to make wise decisions about money in other areas of life, either, and may not be equipped to handle your investments or other assets included in the trust. 

If you want to avoid this outcome, you have options other than leaving this person out of your will entirely. Instead, you can use a trust to limit their access to funds and prevent them from using their inheritance to fund their substance problems. That way, you can support your family members without letting them use your money on self-destructive behaviors. 

Using A Trust To Hold An Inheritance

When people think of estate planning, they typically think of wills before anything else. However, a trust can be very effective for passing assets on to your beneficiaries. 

For one, there are potential tax benefits, depending on the type of trust you use. Using a trust also allows for an immediate transfer of assets to your beneficiaries, which allows them to avoid probate, legal fees, and long waits. 

Trusts also give you, the grantor, the ability to set many stipulations and provisions that affect how assets are distributed to the beneficiaries. In this way, you can continue to protect your beneficiaries even after you pass away.

The use of a trust can also limit your beneficiaries’ access to their inheritances in order to protect the wealth. People facing substance abuse issues often don’t have the judgment to manage their funds wisely. 

Estate planning allows you to limit access to an inheritance until your beneficiary has a change in lifestyle, such as entering rehab or maintaining sobriety for an extended period of time. Putting an inheritance in a trust makes it easier to manage and grow your wealth while also protecting it from misuse.

Adding Provisions To Your Estate Plan

A provision in your trust can limit how assets are distributed to your beneficiaries. Provisions can require that beneficiaries complete certain tasks before they receive an inheritance, such as completing college. 

When you are dealing with someone who abuses substances, you can direct their inheritance into a special trust designed to protect them from themselves. This trust will keep the money safe and prevent your beneficiary from accessing cash and valuable assets. 

Provisions For Care And Necessities

Another approach you could take is to include a provision that will directly take care of the beneficiary’s primary needs directly. This entails giving instructions regarding their inheritance which would flow right into a special trust that will cover their care and basic needs. 

A probate attorney in Orange County can sit down with you and make sure that your trust will cover any essential bills your beneficiary needs. Instead of allowing your beneficiary to access cash and make those payments themselves, a trustee will make payments directly to third parties, such as a landlord, medical provider, or other institution.

This provision will prevent the beneficiary with substance abuse issues to squander the money or use it to harm themselves further. Some of the basic necessities that are often overlooked when one is suffering from substance abuse issues include paying basic utilities like rent, electric and water bills, as well as cell phone bills. 

Establishing trust with this provision will also make it easier for them to complete larger monthly payments such as car payments and insurance. If you are actively undergoing a rehab program or seeking mental health care, the provision will cover all medical bills and insurance for continuous care.

It’s important to note that the beneficiary does not have control of the funds meant to cover their needs and overall medical care. A person is named a trustee to pay the bills and other payments for the person’s benefit and care until they reach full recovery.

Incentives For Sobriety And Healing

You can include incentive provisions to their trust as well. This will allow distributions from the trust fund to reward sobriety or other positive behavior. Restrictive provisions can also end distributions in the event of a relapse. However, provisions need to be detailed and thorough, because it can be a challenge to determine if a person is abusing drugs or not. 

A legal professional with expertise in trusts can help you write a provision that is legally sound and gives your trustee a clear plan of action. Trust assets can then be disbursed or managed by a skilled trustee, who handles them according to the terms you specify when you set up the trust.

Appointing A Trustee

A trustee plays an important role in this type of trust. They will need to work closely with the beneficiary to track their drug use or recovery. The trustee may also need to perform special tasks, like administering drug or alcohol tests to check your beneficiary’s sobriety. 

Though it may be tempting to choose a family member to fill this role, some prefer to use an impartial third party, like a bank or a professional trustee. An experienced trustee can also potentially oversee investments and maintain assets; it all depends on your preference. 

However, when your beneficiary has a substance abuse problem, it’s important that the trustee is able to look at the situation honestly and limit the beneficiary’s access to funds when necessary.  Choosing a reliable trustee can give you peace of mind and ensure that your beneficiary is taken care of financially as much as possible.

Seek Out A Professional Estate Lawyer In Orange County

Our law offices can help you create an estate plan and add provisions that will protect your beneficiaries. We specialize in the estate planning of all kinds, and we can help you put limits on trust distributions. 
Hiring the right attorneys at Park Law Offices means ensuring people who need help with estate plans, trust administrations, probate matters, and other related matters are met with utmost professionalism and years of expertise. Contact us today to set up a consultation and learn more about estate planning services at Park Law Offices.

Creating a will and estate plan takes time, but it’s one of the best things you can do to make things easier for your heirs, and legal assistance from an Orange County estate planning attorney is what you’ll need to secure your instructions.

However, estate planning isn’t a one-and-done activity for most people. Over the years, people buy and sell property, gain and lose family members, and deal with other major life changes. 

It’s possible for real property to slip through the cracks and get left out of the relevant trust documents, even when the deceased intended to include it in a trust. But what happens then? 

An estate planning lawyer in Orange County can help you file a Heggstad petition to transfer the relevant property into the trust without facing probate. Here’s how the petition works.

What Is a Heggstad Petition?

After a person dies, their estate must be distributed according to both the local law and the legal documents they have signed to plan their estate. 

It can be difficult to juggle several estate planning documents and keep them all updated. The creator of a trust may not transfer all of their property to the trust—sometimes omitting property or not remembering to transfer title to property back to the trust after a refinance.

When this happens, that property is normally destined to go to probate, where a judge will determine its fate.

A Heggstad Petition allows the beneficiaries to skip this costly, inconvenient process. Instead, it allows beneficiaries to transfer the property directly into the trust without going through a long court process. This petition is a useful option for beneficiaries who would otherwise need to deal with the delays and expenses associated with probate. 

To make use of the Heggstad petition, you must be able to prove that the decedent intended to include property in the trust. There are several reasons you may file this petition:

What Is the History of the Heggstad Petition?

The petition was named after a California Court case from 1993, which set the precedent for it.

In the case of Halvard L. Heggstad, he listed an asset on his schedule of assets but didn’t officially transfer it to his trust. When his family realized the error, they went to court and argued that the schedule of assets indicated that he meant to include it in his trust.

The court ruled in favor of the family because they were able to prove that Heggstad meant to include the property in the trust. Since then, it has become part of the California Probate Code. Now, other families can add potential assets to trusts even after the trustor has died.

When Should You File a Heggstad Petition? 

A Heggstad petition is generally more affordable than probate, and it also has the benefit of saving time. A trusted living trust attorney in Orange County can help you with this process—from start to finish.

Heggstad petitions are normally filed by a beneficiary or family member of the trust creator. If the trust is valid, and you think that the creator of the trust left out a property unintentionally, you should file a petition. 

Crucially, the Heggstad petition requires you to show that the decedent meant to include key property in the trust but accidentally left it out. Whether this was due to failing health, clerical errors, or another reason, you should be able to make a case for the intent if you plan to file a petition. 

There are several ways to show that the decedent intended to include a property in the trust. As in the original case, listing a property on a schedule of assets often counts as proof.

There are plenty of other ways to provide proof, and your Orange County trust administration attorney can help you find the best options for your case.

What Documents are Needed for a Heggstad Petition?

In order to file this petition, you’ll need to show some relevant documents to your attorney. There isn’t a strict list of requirements, but you should include as much relevant information as you can. These documents will help your attorney make a better case for your petition. 

First, you’ll need to provide some basic information about the beneficiaries and the decedent. If you move forward with filing the petition, you are required to notify all beneficiaries 30 days ahead of time.

You should have a copy of the trust, so the attorney can refer to the specific language it contains and interpret it. This affects the petition and how your attorney decides to move forward. The deed to the property or a description of it is also necessary.

Providing proof of intent is essential. The schedule of assets is an important document here because it can demonstrate the decedent’s plans to include property in the trust. If there are any other legal documents that show intent to include property, these are equally relevant. 

When Should Estate Plans Be Updated?

The best way to deal with an issue is by preventing it. If you have a will and trust as part of your estate plan, consider reviewing and updating them. A probate attorney in Orange County can help you adjust your estate plan for your ever-changing life. 

It’s best to review and update your estate plan as often as you can, to account for any marriages, divorces, or births in the family. Any major changes to property ownership or financial situation may also warrant an update to those documents.

An estate planning lawyer in Orange County would suggest that reviewing your documents every few years will help you identify any updates you need to make. Careful revision of documents will also prevent mistakes and inconsistencies between documents, so your loved ones can avoid court and legal expenses.

Estate planning is a complex endeavor, and it goes more smoothly with the help of an attorney who specializes in estate and probate law. 

To learn more about how we can help your family file a petition or resolve other estate issues, contact us at Parker Law Offices today.

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