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Costa Mesa Probate Attorney

Losing a loved one is heartbreaking. With the funeral and other tasks, navigating probate can feel overwhelming. At The Flanigan Law Group, a Costa Mesa probate attorney can help with the challenges of settling your loved one’s estate.

We provide compassionate legal guidance throughout the probate process. With us, you can focus on more important matters, like honoring your loved one.

Best Costa Mesa Probate Attorney

How We Handle Your Probate

The Flanigan Law Group handles probate cases ranging from smaller, more straightforward estates to larger and more complex ones. Our probate and asset protection lawyers have a proven record of success with probate challenges, such as:

Resolving Beneficiary Disputes

We help disagreeing beneficiaries prepare for mediation. We understand each unique perspective and seek fair, amicable solutions.

Navigating Estate Taxes

There is no need to stress over a complex asset portfolio. While it is ideal when loved ones take time for estate planning, we understand that only some can. We work with tax specialists so you do not have to. Together, we minimize the estate’s tax liability and maximize beneficiaries’ inheritances.

Contesting Wills

Sometimes, people pressure others to change their wills. We investigate these matters and discover when undue influence occurred. Our priority is that the estate’s distribution happens according to a decedent’s original wishes.

We can help guide you through any challenges that arise with your probate proceedings.

What Is Probate?

Probate is the legal administration of a deceased person’s estate. This process includes several steps, such as:

  • Identifying assets
  • Settling debts
  • Distributing assets to beneficiaries

While this is usually conducted through a person’s will, some people do not leave one. California probate law guides the process in these cases.

Why Hire a Costa Mesa Probate Attorney?

It is possible to go through probate alone. You can attend court and let the legal system proceed through the required motions. If any decisions need to be made or passages in your loved one’s will need to be clarified, the state will use its discretion. However, going through probate this way can result in your loved one’s wishes getting misinterpreted or not adhered to if someone makes a mistake.

Hiring a probate attorney can ensure that you have more control over the probate process. Our skilled attorneys provide invaluable assistance, like:

  • Guiding You Through the California Probate Process: We can explain each step of the process and ensure that legal requirements are met.
  • Handling Paperwork: We can handle any necessary paperwork related to the probate process. We also help inventory assets and debts.
  • Proper Payment of Debts and Taxes: Our attorneys are adept at working with debt and tax specialists to pay outstanding balances on time and in full when possible.
  • Asset Distribution: We work diligently to understand your loved one’s wishes. We can ensure the distribution of assets according to the will or intestacy laws.
  • Minimizing Probate Costs and Delays: We work to reduce probate time and cost as much as possible.
  • Protecting Your Interests: Our team advocates for your rights and interests in probate court.

The Probate Process: Step-by-Step

Many people are overwhelmed with stress and anxiety by the time they get to probate. They try to predict whether the court will meet their loved one’s wishes when they should be grieving instead.

A probate attorney can make the proceedings more manageable. We break the process into smaller steps and guide you through it. Assuming you hire an experienced probate attorney, here is an overview of what the California probate process will look like:


Your attorney can start by filing a petition with the probate court and paying the appropriate filing fee.

Next, the court will appoint and approve an executor if one is designated in the will. If the will does not specify an executor or personal representative, or there is no will, any interested party can be the executor if the court approves them.


Your attorney can help the executor notify any beneficiaries who may not know about your loved one’s passing. They can also inform beneficiaries about the probate details and process.

A notice will be published to creditors at this time. The creditors will have a limited period to respond to any outstanding debts and make a claim.

Inventory and Appraisal

Your attorney can create a thorough inventory of all of your loved one’s assets, including property, investments, and other effects. At the time of the process, these assets become frozen, meaning that they cannot be modified, distributed, or sold without the court’s permission.

When necessary, you may need a qualified professional appraiser to determine a particular asset’s fair market value. Sometimes, formal written appraisals are required for specific items, including:

  • Real estate properties
  • Automobiles
  • Collectibles
  • Antiques

The estate covers the cost of any appraisal fee.

Debts, Claims, and Tax Resolution

After proper inventory and appraisal, the executor must submit the estate’s debts and claims to the court for approval. The executor will settle outstanding debts, taxes, and other balances using funds from the estate. Your attorney can ensure that the executor follows the proper order when paying funeral costs, creditors, tax agencies, probate attorney costs, and other related expenses.

During this time, family members with dispute claims will present them to the probate court in a will contest. Challenges to wills can delay the probate process and distribution of assets for everyone involved. The executor attempting to settle the estate must wait until the court completes the inheritance disputes before continuing.

The probate court judge can order a public auction or estate sale if the estate lacks sufficient funds to cover all relevant expenses. After the executor settles all bills, the distribution step begins.


The executor pays outstanding balances and meets all legal requirements before the probate court distributes assets to beneficiaries. The court distributes assets in line with the will or California law. This process lasts a year and a half or longer, depending on the estate’s size and complexity.


The court issues a final order to close the estate after the distribution of assets and resolution of any legal matters.

If you choose not to hire an attorney, your probate process may differ because you will not have legal assistance with these matters.

Common Probate Issues

Unexpected situations happen. Here at The Flanigan Law Group, our Costa Mesa probate attorneys have the experience to get you through a variety of challenges, such as:

  • Contesting a Will: We have experience with invalid wills due to forgery, undue influence, or lack of mental capacity by the deceased. We represent you in litigation to contest the will and ensure the protection of your family’s rights.
  • Locating Missing Beneficiaries: Locating missing beneficiaries delays an already painful process. Our attorneys can help find the missing members and ensure that heirs receive their inheritance.
  • Deciphering Complex Tax Issues: Taxes owed can be a significant obstacle in probate. Our attorneys work with tax professionals, helping assess and minimize your tax burden while complying with tax regulations.
  • Dealing With High-Value Assets: High-value assets, like real estate, businesses, or collectibles, require special attention. We can ensure that these assets are appraised and help distribute them according to your loved one’s wishes.
  • Resolving Family Disputes: Unfortunately, family disagreements are common during probate. Our experienced attorneys help facilitate amicable negotiations.
  • Handling an Uncooperative Executor: We take legal action on your behalf if an executor fails to fulfill their duties or acts in harmful ways for beneficiaries.

Protecting Your Beneficiary Rights

You have rights as a beneficiary. Our probate attorneys help you understand your rights. They can protect you when someone infringes them. Here are other ways that we can assist you:

  • Obtaining Estate Information and Records: You have the right to receive information about estate assets and debts. We can help you request this information from the executor.
  • Ensuring Proper Asset Distribution: Reviewing the will is our work, but it is your right to have the inheritance distributed adequately to you. Once we understand your loved one’s wishes, we can help distribute assets according to their instructions.
  • Contesting the Will: You have the right to contest the will when necessary. We can advise and represent you in court if you believe that you have grounds to contest.
  • Addressing Any Concerns About Your Inheritance: Being incorrectly omitted from a will or not receiving your fair share of the inheritance can take time to process.

The attorneys of The Flanigan Law Group understand that probate can be confusing and stressful, but they are here to guide, protect, inform, and contest with you when you need it.

Benefits of Hiring Our Costa Mesa Probate Attorneys

In the Costa Mesa area and beyond, our law group has helped many families survive their probate process. Hiring an attorney from The Flanigan Law Group comes with ideal services and benefits, such as:

  • Less Stress and Time: Our experience helps make your experience easier. We handle your probate complexities, giving you space and time to focus on grieving your loved one.
  • A Smooth Probate Process: The probate process is efficient with our team involved. We are committed to helping you reduce delays.
  • Fair Administration: You can believe in us to promote the fair administration of the estate and probate process.
  • Minimal Costly Mistakes: Our knowledge of probate law can ease your mind. We help prevent costly mistakes that complicate the probate process.

Your Advantage as a Costa Mesa Client

Our Costa Mesa attorneys are familiar with the probate court in Orange County, meaning that we have appeared before the local courts and judges. The Flanigan Law Group understands the local court procedures and guides you through them efficiently.

Many Costa Mesa estates include real estate in the area. Experience handling probates involving assets like these is vital in making sound recommendations for Costa Mesa. The probate attorneys you hire from our firm have a proven record of successfully handling Costa Mesa matters.

Addressing Your Common Concerns

If you are going through probate, you likely have many concerns about the process, such as:

How Long Does Probate Take?

An entire probate process can range from eighteen months to over two years from start to finish. While the complexity of the estate is a contributing factor to the length of probate, potential disputes can significantly impact probate timeframes. If beneficiaries are in a dispute or your executor fails to do their duty, make sure you reach out to an attorney for guidance on how to get these issues resolved.

How Much Does Probate Cost in California?

Probate costs vary in California due to the intricacies of people’s estates. Sometimes, people have smaller, less complex estates, which can minimize costs. When there are estates spanning numerous real estate properties, financial investments, and other high-value assets, the cost of probate can rise significantly.

Factors like attorney and court fees and appraisal costs can all contribute heavily to a probate’s overall expense. Our consultations can help you get an estimate as to how much your probate might be.

Keep in mind that many probate costs are paid for through the estate.

What Happens When There Is No Will?

If there is no will in California, the state’s intestacy laws determine how the estate is distributed. These laws make asset distribution follow a specified order and prioritize distributing to surviving spouses, children, and other close relatives first.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Probate in California?

While hiring a lawyer for probate in California is not required, it will not be easy to advocate for yourself if you do not understand California probate law. When no will is present, an attorney’s guidance can be vital. Before the probate commences, having an attorney’s help can set your family up for success.

Can an Executor Take Everything?

No, the executor must manage the probate process. Executors have no authority to keep anything beyond what covers their executor fee. Suppose an executor attempts to retain more of the estate than their executor fee. In this case, a beneficiary can bring legal action against them.

The executor assumes the role of fiduciary; they are not a beneficiary. Fiduciary responsibility is to focus on the proper interest of the estate and its beneficiaries. Although the executor has a legal right to compensation for their work, they do not have a right to more than their suitable compensation.

The California probate code dictates suitable compensation for an executor.

Contact Our Costa Mesa Probate Attorneys Today

If you are facing losing a loved one, contact The Flanigan Law Group for probate assistance. Our attorneys understand the intricacies of your specific situation and can answer any questions you may have. Let us help you gain the space and time you need to grieve.