Estate Administration Office


Santa Ana/Tustin Office
2223 E. Wellington Ave., Suite 330
Santa Ana, CA 92701
Phone: 714-973-1488
Fax: 714-242-6787

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Estate, Probate and Trust Administration

Our estate department assists fiduciaries with their duties in the process of transferring assets after death whether the transfer occurs through the probate process or through a trust administration. There are many obligations and responsibilities of a fiduciary after death and our estate department guides the personal representative or trustee through the process.

Probate Administration is a legal proceeding in California used when someone dies with assets in their own name and they do not pass to another through a beneficiary designation (such as life insurance or retirement) or through joint tenancy ownership. The legal proceeding moves forward in the probate court in the county where the deceased person lived and can typically take between nine months and two years to complete. The personal representative is appointed by the court to fulfill the fiduciary obligations of administering the estate.

Probate administration is under the jurisdiction of the court who rules on disputes between heirs or between the heirs or creditors and the executor. The executor is required to prepare an accounting and report of the activities of administration before the close of the probate. Assets may not be distributed without court order and typically are not distributed until the close of the probate.

Trust Administration includes representing Trustees in the administration of trust assets when the person who has created a trust either becomes incapacitated or dies. At the death of a first spouse, tax planning, sub-trust allocation, and funding individual distributions can involve complex legal, tax and financial issues. The complexity of trust administration depends greatly on the number and type of assets, their total value and whether the trust includes tax planning provisions.

Trust administration is outside the jurisdiction of the court and, unless there are disputes which are brought to the court’s attention through the filing of a petition, the discretionary decisions with respect to trust administration fall onto the shoulders of the Trustee. The duties of a Trustee mirror, in many respects, those of an executor. The Trustee is required to keep the trust beneficiaries informed, to provide accountings and to act in the best interest of the beneficiaries.