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California Probate Lawyer

California Probate Lawyer

Experienced California Probate Lawyer Helps Clients and Families with the Probate Process in Sacramento County, El Dorado County, Placer County, Solano County, Yolo County, and Throughout CA

When you and your family have had a loved one who has passed away in California, you may need to go through probate to take the inheritance of the assets and money that your loved one has left behind. The probate process in California can seem incredibly confusing for someone who has never been involved with managing an estate before. When you need help, turn to a California probate lawyer from Cianchetta & Associates. For nearly two decades, Attorney Peter Cianchetta has worked tirelessly to help families with the steps of the probate process, taking that hard work off their shoulders so that they can focus on healing after the death of a loved one. 

If you are undertaking the probate process for a loved one’s estate or after being appointed as the administrator of someone’s estate, contact our firm for an initial case evaluation to learn more about how we can provide you with the advice and assistance you need to successfully get through the probate process in California. 

Types of Probate Matters Our Firm Can Help With

At Cianchetta & Associates, a California probate lawyer from our legal team can help you with:

And we can also assist you with all kinds of matters that can arise during the probate process, including:

  • Lost will searches
  • “Small estate” probates, an informal process for estates with aggregate assets below the threshold for which a formal probate is required under California law
  • Preparing and filing probate petitions
  • Gathering and transferring ownership of estate assets
  • Sales of estate assets
  • Will contests
  • Challenges to appointment of administrators/executors
  • Accounting
  • Beneficiary litigation

The California Probate Process

In California, the formal probate process must follow several steps. First, a person or persons must be designated to oversee the estate and probate process. If a decedent left a will, they will typically nominate one or more people to serve as executor of the estate. If no executor was appointed, the court will appoint someone to serve as the personal representative of the estate. 

The probate process formally begins when a petition is filed with the trial court in the count where the decedent resided at the time of their death. A petition may be filed by the person nominated as executor by the decedent’s will, or it may be filed by a relative of the decedent or a beneficiary named under the will. 

Once the petition is filed, the court clerk will schedule a hearing date, typically within about 30 days after the filing of the petition. Notice of the probate hearing must be published in the local newspaper, with written notice also being directly provided to every named beneficiary in a will as well as to the legal heirs of the decedent (even if they are not named in the decedent’s will). The decedent’s creditors must also be provided with notice. 

At the hearing, the court will verify the will (if one exists). A will must be “proved” as the last will and testament of the decedent unless it qualified as a “self-proving” will under California law. The court will also formally appoint one or more people to serve as an executor or administrator of the estate. 

Once appointed, the executor or administrator must then identify and gather all the assets of the estate, listing the assets of the estate in an “inventory and appraisal”. In some cases, the value of certain assets, like real estate, jewelry, or business interests must be formally appraised by an expert. The executor/administrator will use the estate’s assets to pay the decedent’s outstanding debts. The executor/administrator must also file a final personal income tax return for the decedent, as well as an estate tax return.

The executor/administrator must then file a final plan and accounting with the court that allows the court to review how the personal representative handled the estate. After paying the debts of the decedent and estate, remaining assets can be distributed to beneficiaries or heirs according to the decedent’s will or California intestacy law. If the court finds no issues and no one files an objection, the court will discharge the executor/administrator from their duties. 

Let a California Probate Lawyer from Cianchetta & Associates Help You with the Aspects of the Probate Process

When you need help with a probate matter, a California probate lawyer from our firm can assist in your case by:

  • Explaining the probate process to you and your family and helping you understand your rights as a beneficiary, or your duties and obligations as a personal representative of the estate.
  • Preparing and filing the petition for probate.
  • Assisting you with identifying and collecting the assets of your loved one’s estate.
  • Facilitating notices to beneficiaries, heirs, and creditors.
  • Advocating on your behalf in probate litigation, such as will contests, creditors’ claims, or challenges to the estate accounting.

Contact Our Firm Today to Speak with a California Probate Lawyer from Our Legal Team

If the probate process seems confusing and time-consuming to you, contact Cianchetta & Associates today for a confidential consultation to speak with a California probate lawyer about your legal rights and options in your case. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Probate in California

FAQ: What is a probate lawyer?

A probate attorney usually handles the process of estate administration after a person dies. A probate lawyer works with the administrator or executor of an estate or with the beneficiaries of a decedent to help with the probate process. A probate lawyer can advise estate representatives and beneficiaries about their rights and obligations in probate and can assist with the paperwork needed in the probate process, including identifying and collecting estate assets, filing court documents, and preparing accountings for the estate. A probate lawyer can also represent an executor or administrator in probate litigation, such as will contests or beneficiaries’ lawsuits for accounting.

FAQ: How much does a probate lawyer cost?

It can often be difficult to determine at the beginning of a probate case how much hiring a probate lawyer will cost. There are various factors that affect how long a probate case may last and how much a probate lawyer may cost. Probate lawyers are typically paid an hourly fee for the work they perform in a case. However, for simpler estates where litigation will not be involved, probate lawyers may agree to work on a flat fee basis.


Mr. Cianchetta is an OUTSTANDING attorney. I was a little nervous about seeing an attorney for my case. Mr. Cianchetta and his staff made my wife and I feel right at ease. He took extra time explaining what to expect before, during and after our process. His advice was right on!

- Jack M.
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