If you've been appointed as a successor trustee it means that the grantor trusts you with all the important aspects of their life should they become incapacitated or when they die. It's an important role with important responsibilities.

If you're about to appoint a successor trustee, it's a good idea to discuss their exact duties with a trust attorney in Orange County, so you can choose the person most capable of meeting the requirements.

What is a Successor Trustee and What are Their Duties?

A successor trustee is responsible for administering a trust should an event, illness, or death render you incapable of administering the trust yourself. Options include adult children, close friends, financial advisors, estate planning lawyers, and trust companies. A successor trustee's duties depend on the grantor's instructions, but there are certain duties that are inherent in the role.

The first item on the list is to notify the family and financial institutions of the grantor's incapacity or death. Next, they must provide the trust beneficiaries with copies of the Declaration of Trust. 

The successor trustee distributes the property and trust assets according to the terms of the trust. For example, they might have to manage the trust for a minor child until they come of age or meet the conditions of the trust, such as completing an undergraduate degree.

The most important thing to remember when appointing a successor trustee is the complexity of the role. They must understand estate planning and trust law and make informed decisions regarding financial management. This is just one reason why appointing an Orange County estate planning attorney is highly recommended.

Why You Need an Attorney: The Complexities of Trust Administration

A successor trustee assumes a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries of a trust, which means they must always act with the beneficiaries' best interests at heart. Often, this includes investment management and navigation of state and federal tax laws. Add multiple beneficiaries, including charities, and the complexity of the trust agreement is compounded.

For this reason, it's essential that you talk to whoever you want to appoint before you make the decision final. Your best friend might be honored that you place that much trust in them, but their brain runs more to art and literature, not estate taxation and the finer details of living trust management.

Obtaining an EIN for the Estate: Navigating the IRS Website

An EIN is an Employer Identification Number or federal tax ID number. It's provided by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as it's used for tax reporting purposes. Generally, a revocable trust doesn't need an EIN because it falls within the grantor's income taxes.

An irrevocable trust needs an EIN because it's a separate entity with its own tax identification.

It starts to get confusing when irrevocable trusts are also grantor trusts which may or may not need an EIN because they may or may not be estate tax liabilities. 

This can be a step too far for family or friends who have been appointed successor trustees. A trust attorney is far more experienced at navigating the IRS website.

Opening a Trust Bank Account: Avoiding Common Pitfalls

A trust bank account is set up to conduct any trust-related financial transactions. There are different types of trust bank accounts and in some cases, more than one account may be necessary to meet all the trust's financial obligations.

For example, a trust checking account ensures funds are available to make payments immediately. There are also trust savings accounts and brokerage accounts.

It's important to know which account or accounts a specific trust needs so that time and money aren't wasted on accounts that serve no purpose or cost more money than they're worth.

A successor trustee may not know which account will most benefit the trust. Trust attorneys know precisely what accounts are needed and how to manage them.

What You Need to Know About Providing Information to Beneficiaries

Successor trustees have to report obligations to provide beneficiaries with pertinent information regarding the trust. For example, the information contained in the trust documents, including the terms,  list of assets, trust deeds, and identity of trustees. They must also provide beneficiaries with information that will answer their questions regarding the management of the trust.

Beneficiaries are also entitled to annual reports from trustees so they can see how well the trust is performing.

There is some information that successor trustees aren't bound to provide to beneficiaries. The line between confidential and shared information is fuzzy and best walked by experienced estate planning attorneys.

Establishing Trust Bank Accounts for Subtrusts: Ensuring Proper Distribution

Subtrusts are trusts within trusts and usually only come into being after the death of the grantor. Subtrusts include Bypass Trusts, Residual Trusts, and Tax Avoidance Trusts. They have various benefits, including asset protection from creditors and asset protection for children outside the current marriage.

There are situations where the assets need to be protected from the beneficiaries, including the financially irresponsible or those with expensive addictions.

Successor trustees are tasked with funding subtrusts and placing assets in particular subtrusts such as those for individual beneficiaries.

These decisions often require specialist estate planning knowledge, including the ramifications of the different types of subtrusts. A layman might not be qualified to make the correct choices. 

Trust Accounting: Keeping Accurate Records and Meeting Fiduciary Duties

Trust accounting is the recording and maintenance of financial records, including ledgers that contain financial transactions and monthly account reconciliation. There must be a paper trail that proves every transaction was right and proper and not against the best interests of the beneficiaries.

In cases where the successor trustee isn't qualified to carry out fiduciary responsibilities, they usually have the authority to delegate responsibilities to experts, such as professional investment managers.

Fulfill Your Duties as a Successor Trustee with the Help Parker Law Offices!

Parker Law Offices is a firm that specializes in all manner of estate planning, including trust administration and the assumption of all successor trustee duties and responsibilities. We also provide the specialist services of probate attorneys in Orange County.

Contact us for more information on the duties and responsibilities of successor trustees. Complete the contact form on our website or call us at 949-867-4818 at Parker Law Offices today!

Trusts are part of estate planning. They serve as a secure holding pen where the trust creator transfers assets that are then protected from certain things like lawsuits. A trust attorney in Orange County will help you create a trust agreement that fulfills your wishes and meets state and federal requirements.

There are different types of trusts and different types of beneficiaries. All of this will be explained to you when you contact a trust attorney for advice.

What is a Trust and Who Can Benefit from One?

A trust is a legal arrangement that allows the trust creator to transfer assets to another person who is the trustee. The trustee holds, manages, and administers the assets of the designated beneficiaries. A trust document called a trust deed, specifies the trust terms and conditions for its administration and trust distributions.

Trust beneficiaries are usually children or grandchildren, but they can also be organizations like charities and schools. However, some states restrict the types of beneficiaries allowed. For example, you may not be able to name your dogs as beneficiaries. Consult your Orange County estate planning attorney to ensure that your trust is legally compliant. 

People as Beneficiaries: Understanding the Different Types of Beneficiaries

There are three types of beneficiaries, these are:

  1. Primary: These beneficiaries are your first choice. They're usually family members and loved ones.
  2. Contingent: These are secondary beneficiaries. They're the ones who inherit if the primary beneficiaries can't inherit (they're deceased) or won't inherit (a family feud).
  3. Residuary: These beneficiaries are your third choice. They're the ones who inherit when both primary and contingent beneficiaries can't inherit. They also inherit assets that aren't specifically named. For example, after the bulk of the estate has been distributed the remainder goes to the residuary beneficiaries.

Primary beneficiaries typically include:

Immediate family and close loved ones. For example, a mother, sister, daughter, best friend of 30 years, or exemplary nurse who went out of her way to help you while caught in tragic circumstances.

If you have a minor child when you pass away, their legal guardian manages their inheritance until they come of age.

Talk to your estate planning lawyer for professional advice about naming family and friends with special needs as beneficiaries. It's possible that your good intentions put them in a position where they no longer qualify for government assistance and could end up much worse off than before.

Charities as Beneficiaries: How Charitable Trusts Benefit Non-Profit Organizations

A philanthropic option available to you is a charitable trust. You create a trust whose purpose is to stream income to your preferred charity.

Types of Charitable Trusts

The two most common are charitable lead trusts and charitable remainder trusts.

Charitable Lead Trust

A charitable lead trust is an irrevocable trust that streams trust income to your nominated charity for a period, for example, seven years. At the end of the period, the remaining assets are distributed to beneficiaries and not the charity.

Charitable Remainder Trust

A charitable remainder trust is an irrevocable trust that streams income to the chosen charity for a period of time. When that period ends, the remaining assets go to the charity and not the beneficiaries.

There are two types of charitable remainder trusts. Charitable remainder annuity trusts (CRATs) donate a fixed amount as an annuity annually and don't allow additional contributions. Charitable remainder unitrusts (CRUTs) donate a fixed percentage of the value of the trust annually and do allow additional contributions.

Places of Worship as Beneficiaries: Using Trusts to Support Your Religious Community

Many people want to contribute to their place of worship upon their death. It's one last tithe. A tithe is a cash donation to a church that amounts to 10% of property or income. It can also be 10% of your estate.

An estate planning attorney will help you find the best way to carry out your final religious duty by looking at the different types of trusts and determining which option is best for you. For example, you could set up a trust that donates 10% of the value of the trust to the church annually.

Animal Shelters as Beneficiaries: Providing for the Care of Your Furry Friends

You can contribute to your favorite animal shelter or rescue center in a revocable living or charitable remainder trust. You can choose to leave a specified amount of money or resource, for example, all your books for the secondhand bookstore.

You can also go with a residuary option where you leave whatever is left of your estate after everything has been paid and all your beneficiaries are satisfied, to your chosen shelter.

There's also a contingent option should your primary beneficiary not be able to inherit. For example, you leave the remainder of your estate to your brother, but specify that if he doesn't survive you, then 100% of the remainder will to the animal shelter.

Alma Maters as Beneficiaries: Supporting Your Educational Legacy

A charitable remainder trust fund is also the best way to leave a portion of your estate to your school when you die. You can choose between the two types of charitable remainder trusts, charitable remainder annuity trusts or charitable remainder unitrusts.

For example, you might want a trust that allows you or others to keep making contributions, in which case you need a unitrust.

Businesses as Beneficiaries: Leaving a Legacy for Your Company

You may want to contribute to the continuation of your business after you die. As much as you love your family, you know none of them has a head for business, so you want to keep your legacy apart from the rest of your estate planning.

However, business legacies have the potential to be complicated. If you want to be as clear as possible about how you want to leave your legacy, you need to engage an estate planning lawyer who specializes in trusts. They'll help you create a trust specifically for your business's benefit.

Ready to Set Up a Trust and Benefit Those You Care About? Let Parker Law Offices Help You Make the Right Decision!

Don't leave your estate planning to chance by hiring inexperienced trust lawyers. Choose a firm with experienced trust and probate attorneys in Orange County. Parker Law Offices specializes in all aspects of estate planning, with a special focus on the different types of trusts.

Whatever the size of your estate, let our attorneys help you reach your estate planning objectives. Complete the contact form on our website and we'll get back to you. You may also contact us at 949-867-4818 at Parker Law Offices to book a consultation today!

Estate planning isn't only something that takes care of your family after you die. You can set up a revocable or revocable living trust that protects your assets before your death and benefits your family afterward. A trust attorney in Orange County will give you all the advice you need to create a revocable trust that enables you to preserve your wealth.

Revocable trusts aren't just for the rich. Everyone with a family, no matter how small, can create a revocable trust. This is because there are many benefits that apply to all income levels. For example, a trust isn't part of your estate and doesn't go through the probate process. The assets in a trust are available far more quickly and avoid probate costs.

What is a Revocable Trust?

A revocable trust is relatively fluid, you can change the terms at any time during your lifetime. You don't have this option if you have an irrevocable trust. Its fluidity allows you to draw income from the trust and use the trust assets. When you die, the assets are distributed as you have stipulated in the trust terms.

You could, for example, draw money from the assets in a trust to pay your medical expenses for a hip replacement.

Avoiding Probate: How a Revocable Trust Can Save Time and Money

When you die, your estate goes through a probate proceeding that authenticates your will and approves your executor. It can take a long time, sometimes a year or more, and probate expenses can mount up. The cost is taken out of the estate, reducing the assets distributed to your beneficiaries.

Trusts are separate from your estate so they don't go through probate. Furthermore, if you put assets in a trust in another state, you avoid probate estate proceedings in that state.

For example, if you have rental properties in California and Maine, they are also exempt from probate.

Maintaining Privacy: Keep Your Affairs Out of the Public Eye

A will is a public document, which means anyone can take a look, including creditors who want to know if there are sufficient assets to pay your debt. Due to the fact that a revocable trust is separate from your estate, it remains a private document.

For example, an unscrupulous gold digger who frequently reads obituaries and looks at promising wills could latch onto your daughter who inherited your entire estate. That can't happen with a revocable trust document.

Flexibility: How a Revocable Trust Can Be Changed to Meet Your Needs

One of the greatest advantages of a revocable trust is the ability to change it when necessary. It may become necessary if you are incapacitated in some way and can no longer take care of yourself or your financial affairs.

For example, you find out that you have a degenerative spinal condition and know you will need help in the future. You can include terms in the trust that dictate your wants and needs, including who will manage your assets and the way in which you want them managed.

Protecting Your Assets: Shielding Your Estate from Creditors and Lawsuits

We said above that a revocable trust is private and can't be accessed by just anyone. This provides essential protection for your family against creditors.

It also provides protection from potential lawsuits.

For example, your son is sued by his ex-wife for child support. The assets in the trust can't be touched, so your son's financial problems won't affect your daughter's share of the trust property.

Minimizing Tax Liability: Maximizing the Value of Your Estate

Revocable trusts are taxed in an entirely different way from irrevocable trusts. In an irrevocable trust, assets belong to the trust, which means the trust creator and beneficiaries don't owe any income tax. However, in a revocable trust, you retain ownership of the assets and, as a result, you must submit income tax returns.

Furthermore, your estate's total (gross) value determines the income taxes due.  The revocable trust is yours and will be subject to estate taxes. However, a probate attorney in Orange County can help you with tax planning, which could result in estate tax savings or even no tax at all. This is achieved by maximizing estate tax exemptions.

For example, gifting the maximum amount allowed to your family. The gift is exempt from estate tax.

Planning for Incapacity: Ensuring Your Care is Handled as You Want

One of the biggest benefits of a revocable living trust is the control you maintain when you're incapacitated. The living trust specifies the way in which you want financial decisions and payments handled when you can no longer do so yourself. This is usually managed by your successor trustee.

It completely bypasses the need for a conservatorship, which is when the court appoints someone to manage your money.

However, you want to plan for more than your money matters. You can also dictate how you want your healthcare and personal affairs managed after incapacitating life events, such as a stroke.

Passing Your Estate to Your Heirs? Hire Parker Law Offices to Get the Job Done!

Parker Law Offices specializes in every aspect of estate planning from probate to wills and trusts. We're one of the premiere Orange County estate planning attorney law firms. We will help you create a basic trust plan and go on to help you set up a revocable living trust for your adult and minor children.

We also help with larger estate plans that include biological children as well as step-children who aren't automatic beneficiaries.

You can rely on our expertise, professionalism, and confidentiality when drawing up your trust agreement. Contact our team at Parker Law Offices by completing the form on our website. Alternatively, you can call 949-867-4818 to book a consultation today!

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!

Probate is known as a time-consuming legal procedure that slows down the inheritance process and can lead to large attorney fees. You may be wondering if there are alternatives that would be less expensive and have a faster timeline. A Laguna Niguel estate planning attorney can help you find alternatives to the traditional probate experience.

Whether you are creating an estate plan for yourself or handling a loved one's estate, professional legal services can help you learn more about this process and how to avoid probate court.

What is Probate?

The probate court assesses a deceased person's estate and determines how to divide the assets. Whether or not there is a will, the court can oversee the distribution of assets. On the other hand, if there is one, the probate court can declare it valid or reject it. Once they approve a will, they will appoint an executor to carry out its terms.

When someone dies without a will, they are considered intestate. In this situation, the court will use existing succession law to divide assets. The deceased's wishes are not taken into account, because there is no formal record of them.

If the family members disagree with the court about how the case was handled, they can open an estate litigation case to argue against it, lengthening the process as a result. Probate can potentially last many months, causing beneficiaries to rack up legal fees and cause significant delays in receiving inheritances.

It also ties up the property that is undergoing probate, meaning that beneficiaries will need to wait months before they can access it.

If you want to make sure your will is clear and legally valid, an Orange County wills and trusts lawyer can help. They can also assist you with related documents such as your advance directives, living will, and more.

Are there Probate Shortcuts?

California probate code includes some options that allow beneficiaries to skip or shorten the probate process in certain situations.

The surviving spouse in a marriage, for example, can often skip probate. Beneficiaries of a small estate may also be able to skip probate or avoid estate tax liability. We'll go into more detail about these options below.

However, if you are creating your estate planning documents, we recommend working with a trust attorney in Orange County. You will learn about ways to reduce your estate taxes, options for smooth transfer of assets, and

Surviving Spouse Shortcut

A surviving spouse can petition to bypass probate. When it comes to personal possessions like furniture, clothing, and similar items, no process is needed at all.

The right of survivorship applies when spouses own property jointly or through community property. It allows the survivor to take over full ownership of the property without going to court.

For property that is not owned jointly, there is the spousal property petition. There is no limit to the value of the property that can be transferred through this process.

If you want to make sure your estate plans make things easy for your spouse, it's important to see a will and trusts lawyer with in-depth knowledge of Orange County courts

Small Estate Probate

Small estates qualify for a streamlined alternative to probate that is far more convenient. These, as of April 2022, are estates that are under $184,500 in value.

However, it is possible to qualify even if your total assets are worth more than this. Your probate estate excludes many assets, such as the following:

Since you can exclude many assets from your estate this way, it's possible to qualify for small estate probate even if your actual estate surpasses the stated limit. An Orange County trust expert can help you learn more and decide if this approach works for you.


Another option is to create a trust to pass on assets seamlessly to your loved ones without going through probate. A living trust attorney can help you create a trust that suits your specific needs and those of your family.

Your trust estate is private, unlike a will, which becomes a part of the public record. Trusts also provide asset protection. When assets are transferred to a trust, the legal title will belong to the trustee. This protects your assets from personal injury cases, other lawsuits, and creditors.

It's also possible to name beneficiaries for certain assets, including bank accounts, retirement accounts, and life insurance policies. These assets will bypass probate and go directly to the beneficiaries.

How Can Estate Planning Make the Probate Process Faster?

When you work with an experienced estate planning attorney, you can identify options that will expedite the probate process or allow your heirs to bypass it completely.

Creating living trusts is a popular choice among those who have large or complex estates. Using a trust instead of a will can lower your overall estate value—potentially allowing it to qualify for a small estate probate procedure.

A revocable living trust is an excellent option for anyone who wants to maintain access to their assets. Once the owner passes away, the assets will automatically transfer to the beneficiaries according to the trust document. Every revocable trust is different, and you can add special stipulations to protect minor children, disabled heirs, and more.

An irrevocable trust cannot be changed, limiting its flexibility. However, this type of trust offers significant potential tax benefits. A trust and estate planning lawyer can draft a customized trust for you and help with trust administration as well.

Choosing the Right Trust and Estate Planning Attorney

If your goal is to skip probate and handle your estate legal matters as efficiently as possible, hire a trust attorney in Orange County. Our legal team provides professional service and can answer all of your questions about trust and estate litigation.

Set up a free consultation with a legal expert! We will discuss your options and explain what our law firm can do for you. We have been serving Orange County, CA for many years, from Buena Park to San Clemente. 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!

When a person passes away, their assets will generally be subject to probate, a process by which the court assesses their will and other estate documents. Working with a skilled trust attorney in Orange County makes it easy to set up your estate to avoid going through this long and expensive legal procedure.

Many of our clients want to avoid having their assets be a matter of public record, and there are options for doing so. In this article, we'll explore probate, probate records, and potential privacy concerns.

What is a Probate Record?

A probate record is a public record of what happened during a probate case. Probate is a legal process that takes place in a courtroom to handle a deceased person's estate. Since it's a court process, it must be publicly documented. 

All the relevant information and documents are available in a case file. However, case files aren't always readily available. Some courthouses digitize files frequently and quickly. While others take longer or don't make their records available online. 

To access these records, one will need the last name of the decedent and their date of death. In most cities, those who wish to see or get a copy of the records need to pay a fee.

What is Included in a Probate Record?

A probate record includes the legal documents that were involved in the probate case. At a minimum, this includes the will and other estate planning documents. Sometimes it also includes testamentary letters and an estate inventory. It generally includes personal information about the deceased and beneficiaries.

The documents in probate records all become public knowledge, which is important to consider as you make plans for your estate. For some families, that could cause complications or expose them to unwanted attention. An experienced attorney will be able to alert you to these issues and help you avoid them, when possible. 

Probate Records are Public

Like many other vital documents, estate records are available to the public. Even when they include private, personal information about the deceased and their heirs, they are open to the public.

Most wills go through probate court, and when they do, they become a part of public court records. Before that point, the court considers wills private documents. 

For families who value privacy most, this can be a cause for concern. They may want to find ways around probate court. Once a court case starts, it's almost impossible to keep records privately. Working with a Laguna Niguel estate planning attorney allows you to find workarounds that avoid probate and all the costs and invasions of privacy that it may entail. 

What Information Can You Access from Probate Records?

Probate records are detailed and include the documents submitted in court. This includes the will, administrative letters, testamentary letters, and even an inventory of the estate. This information is all public to anyone who wishes to find it.

It also includes information about the deceased person, a list of beneficiaries, and more. Sometimes the records also include personal information about the beneficiaries and executor. When a will is contested or there are other legal actions associated with it, there could be even more documents available in the probate record. 

Unfortunately, it's hard to make this information private once it's part of the public record. The court only seals these records on very rare occasions, and one example is when a judge thought the records might influence a jury and affect a court case.

A better course of action is to prevent the probate process, to begin with. An estate and trust lawyer can help you find solutions to privacy concerns and more.

Define Probate Court - Navigating Through the Legal Process

Probate court is a legal process that settles the estate of a person who has passed away. In many cases, it includes dividing that person's estate, paying off their debts, and carrying out their burial and other final wishes. 

Probate can get quite complicated, especially if the deceased had a large estate or complex finances. An experienced attorney can guide you through the process and advocate on your behalf, if necessary. If a case seems likely to be long and complex, it's a good idea to find a lawyer before the case even begins.

There are a few situations where you can avoid probate. Trusts are a popular way to avoid probate and put all the details of estates in the public record. Retirement accounts, bank accounts, and life insurance policies also tend to have named beneficiaries. 

When creating your estate plan, these are things to consider. Estate and trust attorneys know all the most pressing concerns you may be facing, and they can help you address them and make things easier for your loved ones in the future. That way, they can grieve your death without the added burden of practical concerns. 

Probate Court - Your Estate Executor

The executor is specifically mentioned in the probate record. In some instances, this person's name and contact information will be a part of the record as well. The beneficiaries will also be mentioned here, possibly also with contact information. 

This is intended to make it easier for the family to get in touch if they have questions or concerns about how their loved one's will is being handled. Some executors choose to work with a law firm to support their decisions and show that they are acting in the family's best interest.

Avoid Probate Court with Parker Law Offices!

Handling your estate planning ahead of time is one of the best ways you can protect your family from hours of legal strife. Parker Law Offices provides legal help and estate administration, so you can plan ahead and make the most of your estate.Our trust attorney Orange County will offer personalized advice so you can avoid probate or keep as much personal information hidden as possible. For a free consultation, so you can learn more about our services, 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!

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!

It takes several regular meetings with trust lawyers in Orange County or other legal professionals to plan assets and create a trust. But all of that is worth it when that living trust comes into action.

However, it's very possible to misplace the actual physical copy of a trust document. Section 15800 of the California Probate covers your rights to petition in court and receive the terms of the trust, remove a trustee, and more. As beneficiaries of living trusts, you have several rights that require fiduciary duties from the trustee and other professional agents.

What are your options when you aren't in possession of the trust documents? In this article, we'll go over the steps you can take to retrieve trust documents with the help of trust lawyers in Orange County, CA.

We provide this information for general information purposes, but we recommend getting in touch with a law firm for personalized advice and assistance.

Can Beneficiaries Obtain a Copy of the Estate Accounts? 

A revocable living trust is private and can be revoked at any time, which means that only the living trustors have the right to the full text of their trust. However, after their death, a revocable trust becomes an irrevocable trust, and the beneficiaries then have a right to a copy.

If you are the beneficiary of this type of trust, you are entitled to a copy of their documents after the death of your parent or a trustor.  However, if the trust has multiple trustors, things can become complicated, depending on the instructions in the trust.

As a direct beneficiary, you have the right to an accounting from the trustee because you are considered an equitable owner of the trust assets and accounts. Always remember that you can request to see a trust's bank statements and file a petition in court if your trustee does not supply them upon request.

However, there are some limits to your access to irrevocable trusts. Special needs trusts, for example, appoint a trustee who will manage the assets and provide regular disbursements that will not interfere with government benefits. Similar limits apply to charitable trusts.

A living trust attorney in Orange County can help you sort out the specifics and understand your rights as a beneficiary.

Here are some of the items that can be found in an estate trust:

What Steps Do I Take to Find My Missing Trust?

Living trusts are a valuable tool for distributing assets. As your parents create this legal document, they will work with living trust attorneys to set up plans for trust administration, inheritances for loved ones like yourself, and more. It may also include information about advance directives, power of attorney (POA), and burial plans.

Your parents are the only individuals who have access to their living trust while they are still alive. Until they pass away, their full estate plans are private.

Losing the only copy of the trust means that you'll need to take several extra steps to access your inheritance. Trust lawyers can step in and ensure that you receive trust property.

Parker Law Offices can help trustees and beneficiaries avoid probate by petitioning in court.

Section 17200 (B): What is the Court Capable Of?

The probate court may require you to submit a petition and undergo a lengthy legal process if you lose or misplace a copy of your parent’s trust. But it's possible to get legal services that will help you use the California Probate Code 850 Petition to receive your inheritance as originally intended.

The California Probate Code 850 Petition provides several options that you can pursue. Some examples include:

However, it can be tough to parse probate code on your own. An experienced lawyer can handle all of the legal issues related to your trust and inheritance. Parker Law Offices serves the entirety of Orange County, from Laguna Beach and Mission Viejo to Buena Park.

Tips on Safekeeping Trusts

If you're concerned about losing a trust and still have yours, it may be time to invest in proper storage for your legal documents.

The best lawyers recommend a fireproof, waterproof safe for storing essential papers. Regardless of any natural disasters, your trust will remain intact and easy to find without a search.

Another good idea is to maintain multiple copies. You can keep some copies with your attorney, in a safety deposit box, or another secure location.

Building a Trust-Based Estate Plan With Parker Law Offices

Petitioning the court in the US is a long, arduous process with multiple steps. The California courts estimate that each step can take more than a month, and the entire case can take anywhere from nine months to over a year, or even longer.

Hiring an experienced living trust attorney in Orange County will ensure that you can receive your inheritance through the court process in a timely manner, even when all the documents are not available. We can help you submit an 850 Heggstad Petition that will provide a court order, allowing you to claim the assets you are entitled to. Our team has experience with courts in Santa Ana and Costa Mesa.

Each individual case is different, and our law office thrives on handling each case. We establish an effective attorney-client relationship with thoughtful conversations. Our team can help you bypass having to present the actual estate planning documents, including the will or trust.

Frequently Asked Questions About Finding a Missing Trust

When you are missing a copy of a trust, you may be concerned about probate, accessing the assets contained in the trust, and more. We've answered some of the most common questions from clients.

Am I entitled to a copy of the trust as a beneficiary?

Once a trust becomes irrevocable, you are legally entitled to a copy of the trust documents from an attorney or successor trustee, if available.

Can you inherit assets without a trust or will?

Yes. Various sections of the California Probate Code allow for situations where you are entitled to receive assets even with a missing will or living trust.

Do wills and trusts serve the same purpose?

Legally, a living will and living trust serve different purposes. A living trust is a private document, which can be troublesome if it ever gets lost. Trusts are often far more specific and detailed than wills, although there is some overlap.

Trusts are vital for getting your inheritance smoothly and avoiding the probate process and potential estate taxes. When they do get lost, Parker Law Offices can provide solutions. Our experienced lawyer has years of experience working in the Orange County, California area.To schedule a free consultation with an Orange County living trust attorney, you may fill out our online form or contact us at Parker Law Offices today!

Contact Us

If you have any questions and would like to make an appointment for a consultation, fill out the form and we will get in touch with you shortly.
Estate Planning Attorney in Orange County, CA
Wills & Trusts, Estate & Trust Administration, Probate, and Health Care Power of Attorney
© 2023 Estate And Trust Lawyer. All Rights Reserved.