Where Can I Find a Certified Probate Attorney in Cerritos?
Probate is a complex and expensive process, so if you are an heir in Cerritos (California), you want the best representation. Probate is not something very common like dining out or ordering a to-go meal, so finding the best probate attorney in Cerritos could be overwhelming.
Yes, you may try Yelp, Google, and similar services, but how do know for certain which lawyer is really "the best?" If a probate attorney comes up high on Yelp or Google, it is very likely that they are paying a lot of money for the rankings and probably have a team of specialists who monitor their reviews and traffic. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best choice for you.
If your loved one has passed away and you are looking for a probate attorney in Cerritos, the best strategy is to look for somebody who has been recognized by the State Bar of California as a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate law. Yes, great reviews from happy clients matter (you can check out ours here), but there’s nothing like a stamp of approval from the neutral party like the State Bar of California.
Don’t all attorneys have to pass the bar exam in order to practice in California?
Absolutely! However, any attorney who has passed the bar exam can practice all kinds of law, such as business law, family law, immigration, and estate planning (living trusts, probate representation, etc.).
If you are looking for the best attorney in Cerritos, you want someone who is a specialist. When you are having problems with your heart, eventually you want to be seen by a heart specialist, not just your family doctor, right? So, in addition to simply being a licensed lawyer, you want your attorney to be recognized as a probate specialist.
Is it difficult to become a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law?
Yes. Less than 1% of California attorneys have this prestigious designation.
In order to be certified, Paul Horn was required to take and pass a comprehensive full-day written exam in estate planning, trust, and probate law. He was also required to demonstrate a high level of expertise and the requisite number of years of experience in estate planning.
Lastly, he was favorably evaluated by other attorneys and judges familiar with his work in estate planning, trust, and probate. The closest comparison of this certification is doctors who are board-certified specialists vs the ones who are not.
What are the benefits of hiring a probate attorney in Cerritos who is also a Certified Specialist?
The process to get the certification requires a lot of effort. If the attorney went through all these troubles, he or she probably does only estate planning-related work. For example, the Law Offices of Paul Horn ONLY handles probate cases, living trust, and other estate planning matters. We do not engage in the practice of any other type of law.
If you are hiring someone who is a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law, you are in good hands. You are hiring someone who only specializes in the one area you need help with and nothing else. All in all, you are hiring a highly experienced attorney who will save you tie and money during the lengthy probate process.
Where can I check if a probate attorney in Cerritos is certified?
First, check their website. They will probably have the bear symbol with some language about certification posted on their website. The symbol will look something like the one below.
The best way, however, is to visit the website of the State Bar of California and to use their free search to look up the attorney in question.
Once you are on the California State Bar website, you want to scroll down until you see the following search field.
Enter the attorney name, e. g., "Paul Horn." If you look up Paul Horn, this is what you are going to see. The last paragraph indicates if the attorney has any type of bar certification (legal specialty).
If you choose a State Bar certified probate specialist as your probate attorney in Cerritos, you know you are in good hands!
Three Los Angeles Area Estate Planning Items Everyone Needs
We all own assets in one form or another. When we die, we want to make sure that the assets are properly going to those we love. We also want to minimize any confusion, unnecessary legal fees, and stress for our loved ones. If you live in the Cerritos area (or anywhere in California) there are three essential items that every homeowner needs to have in place to ensure their wishes are carried out after their death.
A Will or a Trust:The simplest estate planning document for Los Angeles area residents is a Will. You can create your own Will by simply writing out the Will in your own handwriting, signing and dating it. This type of Will is called a holographic Will. California Probate Code 6110 sets forth the basic requirements of a valid Will. If you type your Will then, it must have the signatures of two disinterested witnesses. However, the problem with a Will is that if the gross value of the estate is more than $150,000 then probate will be required. In California, if someone owns a home, the gross value of that home is certain to be over $150,000, therefore, if someone has a Will and owns a home, then a probate is required upon his or her death. The other commonly used estate planning document is a living trust. A living trust allows one to put all of his or her assets into the trust, administer the trust for his or her benefit during the lifetime and transferring the assets to their beneficiaries upon death — no probate is needed. The other great benefit of a trust is that if one becomes incapacitated, the trust would name a conservator to care for one’s needs. This conservator could be your spouse, your children or whomever you choose but the main benefit is that it avoids having the court appoint a conservator. California Probate Code 15400 provides that unless otherwise stated, a living trust is revocable; meaning, once the living trust is set up, one can change their mind at any time and terminate the trust. A living trust is a popular estate planning tool that is a convenient and efficient means to distribute one’s assets at death.
A Durable Power of Attorney:
A “power of attorney” is a legal document that names another person to step into your shoes and make decisions on your behalf. It gives that person the right and authority to act on your behalf. However, the power of attorney is ineffective if you become incapacitated — unless you have a durable power of attorney. If one were to become incapacitated, hospitalized, or disabled and unable to handle one’s own affairs then the durable power of attorney will remain in effect, and the one whom you named as your attorney-in-fact can carry out your affairs for you. Not all power of attorneys is created equal. A regular power of attorney will terminate at your incapacity or at a fixed date. It is important to have a durable power of attorney because when you need it most your durable power of attorney will endure your incapacity and allow your loved one to take care of you. The laws governing power of attorney are set forth in California Probate Code 4000 to 4545.
Updated Beneficiary Designation Forms:
In most cases, the designated beneficiaries named in 401(k) plan, IRA or life insurance will override one’s will, so it is imperative to take the time to update these forms when one has major changes in one’s life such as a birth, death, marriage or divorce. It is important to check and update these forms on a regular basis.
If you are a resident of California and you have the above three documents in place, your estate planning is in good shape. However, to make sure that you and your loved ones are truly protected and your wishes will be carried out after your death, visit our Living Trust page and fill out an interactive checklist to see if your estate planning package is complete.