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Understanding Probate: What We Can Do for You


When a loved one passes away, their estate often needs to go through a legal process called probate. Probate is the court-supervised procedure for authenticating a will, if one exists, and distributing the deceased’s assets. If there is no will, the probate court will distribute the estate according to state law.


The Impact of a Will vs. a Trust on Probate

Having a will can simplify the probate process, but it does not avoid it. A will provides instructions on how the deceased wished their assets to be distributed, but it must still be validated by the court. On the other hand, a trust can help bypass probate altogether. Assets placed in a trust can be distributed directly to beneficiaries without court involvement, making the process quicker and more private.


Limited Authority vs. Full Authority in Probate

In California, there are two types of authority that can be granted during the probate process: limited authority and full authority. Limited authority restricts the personal representative’s ability to make certain decisions without court approval. This can slow down the process and add additional costs. Full authority, which we always push for, grants the personal representative broader powers to manage and distribute the estate without needing constant court supervision, making the probate process more efficient and less expensive.


The Probate Process

The probate process involves several key steps:

  1. Filing a Petition: The probate process begins when a petition is filed with the probate court. This is typically done by the executor named in the will or by an interested party if there is no will.
  2. Notice to Heirs and Creditors: Once the petition is filed, notice must be given to all potential heirs and creditors, giving them an opportunity to file claims against the estate.
  3. Inventory and Appraisal: The estate’s assets must be inventoried and appraised to determine their value.
  4. Payment of Debts and Taxes: Any outstanding debts and taxes must be paid from the estate’s assets.
  5. Distribution of Assets: After debts and taxes are paid, the remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries according to the will or state law if there is no will.

Statutory Fees in California

In California, the probate process involves statutory fees for both the executor and the attorney handling the probate. These fees are based on the value of the estate and are set by state law. While these fees can add up, having full authority can help minimize additional costs and expedite the process.


Our Legacy of Excellence

Our office has a rich history of over 100 years in tax and estate law. We are proud to be a third-generation family practice, with three generations of Bergers dedicated to providing exceptional probate and estate law services. When you choose our firm, you benefit from our extensive experience and commitment to handling your probate needs with the utmost care and professionalism.


What We Can Do for You

Navigating probate can be complex and emotionally challenging, but we are here to guide you every step of the way. Our goal is to make the process as smooth and efficient as possible, ensuring your loved one’s wishes are honored and your family’s needs are met. Let us put our century of expertise to work for you, providing the support and guidance you need during this difficult time.


We have 34 years of combined experience in real estate, real estate investment, and foreclosure law. We place an emphasis on quality work coupled with quality client retention.
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Law Office of Aaron Berger

15260 Ventura BLVD #1200

Sherman Oaks, CA 91403