Merced Wills and Probate Lawyer Assists with the Preparation and Settlement of Estates

Central California firm drafts wills and guides clients through probate

Great care needs to be taken during the creation and execution of a will. At Curry and Curry in Merced, I deliver exceptional legal counsel to Californians during the estate planning stage and throughout the process. After discussing your circumstances and priorities, I will outline what a will can and cannot accomplish for you. My firm will draft the will and any other estate planning documents you wish to create. If changes arise that necessitate adjustments to your estate plan, I am able to develop the requisite codicil or revision. After someone dies, my firm offers advice and representation during each facet of the California probate process so that the instructions left by the decedent in their will are carried out accurately and efficiently.

Drafting a will

Without a valid will, you do not have control over the distribution of your assets when you die. Rather, California’s intestacy law allocates your property to family members based on a priority system established by the state. Creating a will is an important responsibility regardless of your age or the scope of your current holdings. My firm drafts comprehensive testamentary documents for  California residents and can prepare a will that meets your specific needs and serves as a fitting legacy. I will help you name a suitable executor and set forth clear directions regarding who should receive real estate, stocks, vehicles, IRA funds, 401(k) accounts and other property that you own.

Specific assets that are not transferred through a will

Not everything that you own becomes part of your estate when you die. If you have joint ownership of a real estate parcel or bank account with someone else, they take full ownership of that property once you pass away. As an estate planning strategy, some people choose to place their assets in a living trust or another type of trust that disperses a decedent’s property outside of the probate system. Life insurance proceeds, payable upon death accounts and investments with a right of survivorship are also transferred without becoming part of your estate. By working with an accomplished trusts and estates lawyer, you can learn what you need to make smart decisions about your final instructions and other elder law concerns, such as Medi-Cal planning and eligibility.

Probate in California

When someone dies, the assets they owned must be transferred to other parties. In many cases, this is done through the probate process. If the decedent has a valid will in place, the person named as executor within that document must file the will and should be appointed personal representative for the estate by the court. Once that is done, there are several tasks that must be completed before the estate is settled, such as:

  • Providing notice to the decedent’s creditors and beneficiaries
  • Locating assets and shifting ownership to the estate
  • Creating an inventory of estate assets and a record of transactions
  • Paying taxes and other expenses during the probate process
  • Satisfying debts owed by the decedent
  • Addressing any challenges to the will’s validity or execution
  • Submitting a petition to the court seeking closure of the estate and providing an accounting of assets and transactions

If you are the executor for someone who has recently passed away or seek to serve as administrator for a family member who died intestate (without a will), you should contact an experienced California probate lawyer as soon as possible. Attempting to handle a probate yourself without an experienced probate attorney is foolish and can delay the administration of the estate and distribution of assets for months or years. My firm can guide you through each step of the process and assist you with your duties of estate administration. My staff has extensive experience and outstanding ability to assist you in all of the required technical steps to properly and efficiently administer an estate. My probate paralegal has over 30 years’ experience as a legal assistant, well over 20 years’ experience with probate matters, has her paralegal certificate, has an A.A. in paralegal studies, and instructed paralegal classes at Merced College from 1998 to 2010. My legal assistant has over 25 years of experience drafting probate pleadings, preparing accountings and assisting clients in probate estates.

Contact a Central California lawyer for a consultation regarding a will or probate matter  

Our team at Curry and Curry assists Californians with wills and probate issues. To set up a meeting with a knowledgeable attorney, please call 209-720-3912 or contact me online. My office is located in Merced. Telephone and remote meetings are available for clients in other areas.