Need Assistance with Probate or Trust Administration?

California Probate Attorneys Assist with Estate Administration Across Silicon Valley

“Probate” refers to the process of the court overseeing the administration of a deceased person’s estate. The purpose of probate administration is to ensure that final bills and expenses, including any taxes owed, are paid and that the remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries named in the will. If the decedent died without a will, or “intestate,” then the decedent’s estate is distributed to the decedent’s heirs as defined under California’s laws governing succession. In some cases, a decedent may also have left a trust, which will also need administration. Every estate is different, so applying California probate laws and rules regarding trust administration can be complicated. Therefore, if you are entering the probate process or need assistance with a trust, then you should always consult with qualified estate law attorneys.

The lawyers of Temmerman, Cilley & Kohlmann, LLP provide comprehensive assistance in all aspects of probate administration. We administer a wide variety of estates, from small, straightforward wills to trusts worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Our clients include private professional fiduciaries, corporate fiduciaries and also individual family members. With twelve attorneys, one of whom is also a CPA, and several paralegals involved in our trust administration practice, we have the depth of resources necessary to handle even the most complicated trust administrations. Our attorneys also internally prepare accounts for trust beneficiaries, estate and gift tax returns, and defend those tax returns if they are audited. We have repeat success at obtaining extensions of time to pay estate taxes, often for several years. Additionally, we have been successful in convincing the court to modify and terminate irrevocable trusts that are no longer serving their originally intended purpose.

What Is the Probate Process?

The Superior Court of the County of Santa Clara has a diagram that outlines the steps required in the probate process. It should be noted that the timing of the steps shown on this diagram varies depending on a number of factors, including:

  • Nature and complexity of the estate
  • Amount of time required for the probate referee to complete appraisals
  • Number of creditors filing claims against the estate
  • Sale of any real property
  • Filing of any estate tax returns
  • Court’s schedule
  • Any disputes involving the estate

However, in general, the probate process involves filing a petition for probate with the applicable court. Then, there will be a hearing and you must give notice to creditors. Next, you will pay outstanding debts and taxes, which may take up to a year to complete. Finally, you will file an accounting and petition for distribution. If all goes smoothly, you will receive approval for distribution after a final hearing. In all, this process could take anywhere from six months to more than a year. Additionally, if any beneficiary or related party disputes the will or any estate documents, then probate may take considerably longer.

How Can California Probate Attorneys Help Me?

Our highly skilled San Jose and Danville probate lawyers at Temmerman, Cilley & Kohlmann, LLP understand all aspects of the probate process. We provide counsel to our clients for all legal and tax issues that you may face after a loved one’s death. Our probate administration services include:

  • Preparation of all necessary court pleadings
  • Court appearances
  • Assisting personal representatives in the preparation of an inventory of estate assets
  • Marshaling estate assets
  • Handling liquidity issues
  • Sale of estate assets
  • Payments of the decedent’s debts
  • Addressing creditor claims
  • Final distribution to those entitled to the decedent’s estate
  • Resolution to a wide range of disputes that arise throughout the probate and administration process

What Is Trust Administration and How Can a Lawyer Help?

Administering a spouse or parent’s trust after their death is often a confusing process. If you are a trustee, then you may have questions about how to manage your loved one’s assets or distribute them to beneficiaries. Our attorneys understand that this can be a very difficult time for the surviving family members. Therefore, we remain involved with trustees from the beginning to the end. The attorneys at Temmerman, Cilley & Kohlmann, LLP provide a full range of trust administration services and provide step-by-step guidance to assist a trustee, including:

  • Inventory of trust assets
  • Value of trust assets
  • Providing notifications to trust beneficiaries
  • Sale of assets when necessary
  • Distribution of assets to subtrusts or outright to beneficiaries per terms of trust
  • Checklist of action items for trustee to attend to

We work closely with our trustee clients to ensure they understand their fiduciary duties. We also advise them on how to protect themselves from incurring liability to the beneficiaries of the trust. If you have existing relationships with financial advisors, accountants, insurance brokers or financial planners, then we can work as a team with those professionals to ensure the smooth and efficient administration of the trust.

Frequently, we receive and accept referrals from other attorneys in cases where the trust administration process has broken down. For example, co-trustees may have difficulty working together. In some cases, trust documents include unclear and conflicting terms, leading to disputes. Sometimes, we can solve these disputes through mediation or negotiation. However, we also provide comprehensive services in trust and estate litigation if it becomes necessary to go to court.

What Happens If a Trust Includes Complex Assets?

Thanks to the depth of our resources, our attorneys are able to handle trust administrations that include a wide variety of complex assets. For example, we have advised and assisted co-trustees in the administration of trusts that included wineries, hotels, restaurants and art galleries. Other examples of complex assets include:

  • LLCs
  • Corporations
  • Limited Partnerships
  • Closely held family businesses
  • Wholly owned or partially owned businesses
  • Wholly owned or partially owned physical properties

When necessary, we also advise and assist in the sale of some of these properties to raise funds to pay estate taxes. We also counsel trustees on completing due diligence to ensure the appropriate management of trust businesses.

Contact Our California Attorneys for Probate and Trust Administration Services

Since 2001, our probate attorneys have been successfully assisting clients in estate and trust administration. Our San Jose and Danville law firm represents clients in Fremont, Walnut Creek, Danville, Santa Clara and San Mateo, as well as Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Francisco and other counties. Call our San Jose office at (408) 290-7210, our Danville office at (925) 233-4399 or contact Temmerman, Cilley & Kohlmann, LLP online today.