If you are expecting an inheritance, it’s important that you do your due diligence to make sure you are prepared for the legal procedure that accompanies the transfer of assets. Especially for those who have never dealt with California inheritance law before, it can be surprising just how complex it is to complete an inheritance — even if there is a will spelling out who gets what.
If you were named as the executor or administrator of an estate, the stakes are even higher. You now have a legal and fiduciary responsibility to the courts and the other beneficiaries that can end up with you personally liable for any discrepancies if the process is not followed correctly. Hiring a California inheritance lawyer can remove a lot of the stress involved with the probate or inheritance process.
California inheritance tax, also known as “estate tax” or “death tax,” can eat a sizable chunk of the estate before it has a chance to be distributed. However, the taxes and fees taken out of an estate can be minimized by an experienced inheritance lawyer who is deeply familiar with California inheritance law and the probate process. By hiring a qualified California inheritance lawyer, you ensure that you protect your inheritance as much as possible from unnecessary California inheritance taxes, fees, and any other bad actors that may seek to get between you and what is rightfully yours.
If only it were as easy as reading a will (if it exists) and carrying out what is specified inside. However, California inheritance law is nuanced and incredibly specific. Often times, people will attempt to go through the probate process alone and without legal counsel, only to mire themselves in a pile of mistakes, clerical errors, missing forms, and huge (but avoidable) taxes and fees. As with most legal matters, it is best to leave the probate proceedings to an experienced and qualified inheritance attorney, rather than attempting to complete the process yourself.
If a family member dies intestate (without a will), the inheritance process gets a lot trickier. It becomes the probate court’s job to accurately and fairly assess and distribute the estate value to the appropriate family members (such as a spouse, siblings, parents, or children). Certain assets are exempt from the automatic distribution involved in intestate succession in California. This could include jointly-held property, 401(k) accounts, and life insurance proceeds. If a family member of yours has passed away intestate, it’s critical to consult with an inheritance lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights and retain as much of the estate’s value as possible.
Possibly more than any other area of law, inheritance and probate attorneys often work with clients who are not physically in the same area as them. This is due to families often being geographically spread out from one another. A question our firm sometimes receives is whether someone in another state or another part of California can hire a Los Angeles inheritance attorney. The answer is a resounding YES — any inheritance lawyer worth their salt will have excellent communication skills and a wealth of experience counseling clients in other geographic areas. At JT Legal Group, we pride ourselves on our prompt, clear, and courteous communication. Our attorneys are available to consult with you in the manner you find most comfortable, whether that is email, phone, Skype, or in person.
Armine Singh is the Managing Attorney at JT Legal Group. Armine has defended hundreds of homeowners from foreclosure through successful real estate litigation defense...