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Big delays in California probate courts

Even if you have the best California probate attorney you can get a bad court date. In most cases there are two court dates given. One at the beginning when you file the Petition for Probate or Petition for Letters Testamentary or Petition for Letters of Administration. The second date is at the end of probate when you file your accounting which is often called a First and Final Report. I always ask the Court to actually follow the law and give my clients a court date within 30 days as provided in California probate code 8003.  That section provides, in part, "The hearing on the petition shall be set for a day not less than 15 nor more than 30 days after the petition is filed." However, many courts ignore the law and still file 2 or 3 months out. So the first court date does at least ha
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Why don’t attorneys return my call?

It has been said to me by many a client, "it is truly a breath of fresh air how fast you reply to emails and phone calls... thank you." They often then say something like other attorneys don't even call them back to schedule an initial appointment or call them back once they are the attorney of record... thus the age old question, "why don't attorneys return my call?" I hate to make excuses for my brethren so I won't. Yes attorneys are busy but, you know what, so are most people. Life is busy.  Do attorneys really think they are busier than others? I have heard attorneys say their time is valuable.  Yes, our time has value but it's value comes from clients who hire us and happy clients who refer us to their friends and family. If we act like our time is more valuable t
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Stuff happens… so finish your estate plan

Every year it happens. Every year I get to the end of the year and am amazed that some people I met with months ago have not finished their estate plans yet. People who have had rough drafts mailed to them long ago. People who have been reminded that they should get it done.  People who might be causing probate, family fights, estate taxes, or other problems by not getting their estate planning documents done. Please remember that STUFF HAPPENS! I am blogging today with a reminder to people to finish your estate planning documents.  If you haven't met with an attorney then go do that.  As you likely know mere discussion, and even unsigned documents, provide no protection. That is, the reasons that people do an estate plan to provide value to you and your loved ones is not in place unt
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How to probate when a husband and wife die a year a part

I had a really interesting fact pattern today that I wanted to share. I got the perspective client's permission to share but, of course, names are changed for privacy. Sadly Gina's mom, Molly, died in December of 2015 and her dad, Donald, died in December of 2016. A crappy 12 months for Gina we can all agree. They owned a house in Sacramento county. A very common scenario we see is where the decedent's home ends up in one spouse's name alone. This is often done for financing purposes where one spouse has great credit, one spouse has bad credit, one spouse is employed, one spouse is self employed, etc.... Several of those factors were present here. So there is a house in Molly's name as her "sole and separate property." That is, Donald actually deeded his interest in the house to Molly as
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