Davis Probate Litigation Attorneys
Providing Guidance Through Probate Administration
Probate administration can be complex and even overwhelming. If you are responsible for probating an estate as an executor or administrator, or otherwise involved in a probate action as a beneficiary or trustee, we can help you navigate the probate process. We can make sure that you comply with all the legal requirements in a timely fashion, and that the estate avoids all state and federal taxes to the maximum extent possible.
Probate can be costly because there are statutory fees for the attorney and executor under California Probate Code section 10810, and there are also court fees and costs. The attorney’s and executor’s fees are based on the value of the estate. A skilled attorney can usually assure that there are no additional fees beyond the statutory fees and court costs. An experienced attorney can make the probate process go smoothly and efficiently and can avoid mistakes that cause delays and make the process more costly.
Board Certified in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law
At the Kopper, Morgan & Dietrich, we help clients with all of their estate planning needs, including probate administration and litigation. Attorneys at Kopper, Morgan & Dietrich have more than 30 years of experience, and attorney William D. Kopper is board certified in estate planning, trust and probate law. The firm represents clients in Davis and Woodland, and throughout Yolo, Sacramento and Solano counties in California.
Probate Administration and Litigation
Probate is the legal process in which a court administers an individual’s estate. Probate is started by the filing of a Petition with the court and the publication of notice in the newspaper. During the process, the executor or the court-appointed probate referee values the assets of the estate and prepares for the court an Inventory and Appraisement of the Estate’s assets. Later in the probate proceedings, the executor must prepare an accounting of all the transactions of the probate estate and make a report to the court.
Generally, if an individual died with only a will or without a will (intestate), it is necessary to probate the estate. If an individual had a living trust, the estate is administered in accordance with the terms of the trust and probate is avoided. Sometimes a living trust does not prevent probate because the deceased individual did not place his or assets into the living trust.
Both wills and trusts can lead to probate litigation. In the case of trusts, the most common litigation involves the trustee failing to perform his or her fiduciary duties in a fair and competent manner. Often, the trustee is one of the children of the creator of the trust, and administers the trust in a manner that favors the trustee but is unfair to one or more of the trustee’s siblings. Other common causes of litigation are disputes about the assets of estates and the valuation of the assets, and also a failure of the trustee to properly account for trust expenditures.
Other areas of litigation involve disputes about the testator’s (the creator of the will) mental capacity when the will was signed. A testator is usually assumed to have testamentary capacity if he or she is able to identify the assets of the estate, the natural objects of his or her bounty (usually the children), and provide a reasoned analysis as to the proposed distribution of the estate. It is usually difficult to prove an individual lacks testamentary capacity. Wills and trust are more often attacked on the grounds that the creator of the will or trust was subject to undue influence. It is usually easier to prove undue influence than incapacity. When a beneficiary who is not a child or a natural object of the testator’s or grantor’s (of a trust) bounty receives the majority of an estate, then this is an indication that a beneficiary may have exerted undue influence.
Contact Our Experienced Estate Planning Lawyers Serving Davis and Winters
At Kopper, Morgan & Dietrich, we are committed to providing quality legal services with exceptional individualized attention. If you have an estate planning or probate matter, please schedule an initial consultation with us. To schedule your appointment, contact us online or call 530-758-0757.