Irvine Probate Lawyer
Irvine Office

Probate Lawyer in Irvine, CA

The term “probate” – which literally means “proving” – refers to the process wherein a decedent’s will must be authenticated, outstanding legitimate debts paid, and assets transferred to the beneficiaries. Probate is a judicial proceeding by which the court decides the rightful heirs and distribution of assets of a deceased.

One of the biggest misconceptions we hear from people is that they have a will so their estate wouldn’t have to go through probate. This is NOT TRUE. If there are assets in the deceased’s name at their passing, it doesn’t matter if there is a will or no will, the estate still needs to go through probate. Smaller estates with a value of $184,500 or less may qualify for a non-formal probate case.

Going through probate can be both more time consuming and expensive without a will than it is with a will.  This is because your will can waive certain probate requirements (like having the executor post a bond or obtain judicial approval to have an estate sale). At the same time, probate without a will follows the governing state’s intestacy laws which may likely result in a less-than-perfect split of assets that not only may not be in line with your wishes but may leave many surviving loved ones unhappy.

Don’t chance it. Protect your family’s future with guidance from an Irvine probate lawyer. Call today for your free consultation.

Steer Clear Of Probate. Here’s Why:

  1. Probate is very expensive.
    Money that would be going to the beneficiaries is being spent out of the probate estate on costs, attorney’s fees and personal representative fees.
  2. Probate can take a long time.
    Probate proceedings can take anywhere from 12 months to 24 months to complete. This could be for an uncontested probate (no one is fighting or challenging it). Some probate cases where the family is in disagreement can drag on that could take 5 to 7 years (which means a lot of money on attorney’s fees). Additionally, while the estate is going through probate, the probate estate (money) is not available to the family until it is completed.
  3. Probate is a public proceeding.
    Once the petition is filed with the court, anyone can go to the courthouse, pull the records and find out what was owned, who money is owed to (creditors) and who the beneficiaries are. This could open the beneficiaries up to predators.

Read our blog for more information on avoiding probate in California.

Your Children Can Be Effected By Probate

If someone passes away and they have minor children with no planning in place, state law will decide who gets what and when.

  • For example, the intestate statute may mandate divvying up proceeds equally among your children.
  • Your older children will get their shares immediately if they’ve attained adulthood (18 years old in California).
  • The court will appoint a guardian of its choosing to manage the money for your minor children until they become adults and possibly a separate guardian to raise your minor children.
  • A guardian can charge a lot of money to manage the money for your minor children and be a total stranger – as can the guardian who raises your minor children.
  • If you die without a valid will, the court, not you, will decide the futures of your minor children.

This is why it is so important for parents that have minor children to get a plan in place to protect their kids. Without legal estate planning documents in place, parents have no say what happens to their minor kids if something happens to them.

Probate Is Not Cheap

In California, if an estate must go through probate court, the fees have to be paid to both the attorney and personal representative (also known as executor or administrator). These fees are set by state statute and are for the total value of the estate.

California Probate Code §10810 states that probate fees are 4% of the first $100,000 of the estate, 3% of the next $100,000, 2% of the next $800,000, 1% of the next $9,000,000, and one-half % of the next $15,000,000. For an estate above $25,000,000, the court will determine a reasonable amount for the fees. If the probate matter is complicated or special circumstances arise, higher fees can be ordered by the court.

Costs for probate court also include a probate petition filing fee of $435 and $435 at the closing of the probate to file the petition for final distribution of the estate assets. There can also be other miscellaneous costs including probate referee fees, bonds, publication of probate notice, and other costs.

Calculate Probate Fees Here

Avoiding Probate by Creating a Trust

Probate can be avoided with the proper planning by creating a trust. Property in a revocable living trust does not pass through probate. Property that passes using a will only guarantees probate.

As everyone’s situation is different, it’s important to analyze every aspect of your situation – and what the future may hold – so that you can determine what’s right for you and whether probate avoidance, incapacity planning, and trust protections have value to you and those you love. Most people receive the greatest overall benefit from having a trust.

Without an estate plan in place, you and your family are left completely unprotected.  Call our office at (949) 676-6016, click below to schedule an appointment with one of our estate planning attorneys, or complete the form below and we’ll help you determine whether a will or a trust makes sense for your situation. You don’t have to make these decisions alone.

Services We Offer In Our Irvine Probate Lawyer Office

We are here to help you

No two families are the same, so no two estate plans will be.

To discuss your custom California estate plan strategy, contact us. Let’s chat. We assure you that you will be able to communicate openly with us in a no-cost consultation, whether in English or Spanish.

Click below to schedule an appointment, or complete the form here. A member of our estate planning team will contact you!

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Based on 119 reviews
Matt Morrisset
Matt Morrisset
Efficient, knowledgeable, patient, attention to detail, straight forward pricing, flexible scheduling are some of the words I would use to describe our experience with Jennifer at Hermance Law . The team made what seemed to be a daunting task, easy and we now have the piece of mind that are our future and our children's future is better planned and simplified.
Andy Wombwell
Andy Wombwell
We had a great experience with Hermance. Jennifer explained everything and made the process easy for us. We’re very glad we worked with her!
Sydney Robertson
Sydney Robertson
I worked with Jennifer to set up my trust and will, and found the process to be smooth and thorough. Jennifer was quick to respond to my questions, gave me good information so that I could make informed decisions, and handled the paperwork efficiently. I strongly recommend Jennifer Romero and Hermance Law for your estate planning.
Thomas Lyon
Thomas Lyon
I reached out to Hermance Law to update my estate plan. Jennifer Romero and the other staff at Hermance are terrific. True professionals. I encouraged other family members do the same. We all now have the comfort and security of complete estate plans.
Tim H
Tim H
I had a great experience with Jennifer Romero at Hermance Law. I went into the consultation with no expectations or knowledge of the process for establishing a Trust and was very impressed and comfortable through the whole process. Jennifer was very receptive, knowledgeable and understanding of my questions and we were able to get it done in an efficient manner. Once everything was signed, I was given clear actionable directions that allowed me to take care of "my side" of things and I'm happy with the outcome. For anyone that is unsure if they need estate planning, I encourage you to attend one of their free informative classes. I didn't need to after my first call, but you won't regret it if you're on the fence.
Gina Saucedo
Gina Saucedo
Hermance Law Estate Planning along with Jennifer Romero was very convenient, easy and affordable
Angela Ruiz
Angela Ruiz
Thank you for all you help and explaining everything to us along the way.
Destiny James
Destiny James
The estate planning workshop was well organized and informative. All questions were well received and answered. At the end there was transparency with pricing if you moved forward with estate planning. All staff in the office were friendly.
Adriana Melling
Adriana Melling
Excellent workshop! I highly recommend!
Erika Henderson
Erika Henderson
This workshop was really helpful for my mom to see the benefits of a living trust. She is excited to get started with Hermance Law!


We are probate lawyers, but we are also parents. We have great resources on estate planning for parents, focusing on what parents can do to protect their children in emergencies.

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Serving Clients Throughout California

Find An Office Location Near You

We understand that this can be overwhelming. Family estate planning forces uncomfortable conversations about preparing for unfavorable eventualities. Rest assured that we are as empathetic as we are knowledgeable.

Find us in Ventura, Westlake Village, Valencia, Pasadena, Calabasas, Santa Clarita, and Irvine, or connect with us virtually.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do all assets have to go through probate in California?

Some assets will not go through the probate process.

Non-probate assets include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Life insurance policies with designated beneficiaries
  • Retirement accounts with designated beneficiaries
  • Co-owned real estate
  • Payable-upon-death bank accounts

Speak to an experienced probate attorney at our law office to determine which of your assets could be up for grabs.

Does a will protect your family from probate?

Some think that having a will protects their family from probate. However, this is a misconception. A will is beneficial, but most estates have to go through probate regardless of whether or not the decedent created one. Having a will does help your executor complete probate easily since they’ll know how to distribute your assets.

If you want to avoid probate, you can create a revocable living trust.  A revocable living trust is a document where you can distribute your assets to your heirs. Trusts don’t have to go through probate, so your assets can go to your beneficiaries immediately.

What happens if the executor of a will dies?

If the executor has passed away or cannot perform their duties, the successor or alternate Executor will take their place. If there are no successors listed in the document, then the court will appoint an Executor or Administrator of the estate.