Probate court cases are on the rise in our Rocklin law firm. With the current state of the economy, more people are taking probate matters in their own hands. But there is a huge reason why our clients hire us for estate planning: to avoid probate court in the first place. Court is confusing, time consuming, and stressful for even inexperienced attorneys. If you filed a petition in Placer County, Sacramento County, El Dorado, or any county probate court in California and find you’re in over your head, we can help you. Here’s an example of one client that found herself in trouble in probate court.
Dementia – A Common Cause of Probate Court Petitions
Silvia’s mom Denise had shown signs of dementia for a while. Denise would wear clothing that was inappropriate for the weather and repeated stories she had told the day before as if the event had just happened. The family got a scare when they learned that Denise would leave her home and walk to Old Roseville – a distance of two miles – and not know how to get home. The police were called, Adult Protective Services followed suit, and the family was terrified that Denise would wander off and seriously injure herself. Silvia had to do something.
Not All Estate Plans Can Avoid Probate Court
Denise didn’t have much, but she did own her own home and had social security and a retirement IRA netting her about $4,000/mo. Denise had an estate plan with a trust and powers of attorney for health and finance to protect her when she lost capacity. Denise’s plan let Silvia pay for utilities and buy groceries. Denise gave Silvia power of attorney for health care and nominated Silvia as her conservator. But Denise didn’t give Silvia the power to place Denise in a memory care home (very common). So, Silvia was stuck – she didn’t have the power to protect Denise from wandering off. She needed to file a conservatorship petition in probate court.
Probate Court Petition for Conservatorship
To save money, Silvia decided to represent herself (called in pro per) and file her own petition for conservatorship of the person. A “conservatorship of the person” can help Denise by giving Silvia the power to place her in a memory care home where Denise can’t wander off. This power is an extreme limitation on a person’s constitutional right to determine where they live. For this reason, all conservatorships of the person petitions require proposed conservatees, like Denise, have her own attorney.
How Pro Per Probate Court Petitions Get Derailed
Silvia filed her petition correctly, and even managed to obtain emergency protection for Denise. But Denise’s court-appointed attorney had a lot of questions about Silvia’s handling of Denise’s estate before the petition was filed. Silvia didn’t do anything wrong – but she didn’t have the tools to present her case. Worse, Denise’s attorney was overzealous and wanted to fight the conservatorship. The conservatorship petition was now set for trial. Silvia was mortified – she filed the petition because it was necessary and she represented herself to save what little money Denise had in her estate. Feeling defeated, Silvia called our office.
How We Help in Probate Court
Trials in probate court could happen any time someone objects to a petition – which can happen on the day of your hearing. When our law firm is hired on to a case we restore calm and order. We answer questions, revise petitions, and in many cases we can avoid trial. With our trial experience, we can represent you in complicated probate law cases that are set for trial, like Silvia’s, and help get you favorable results.
We won Silvia’s trial by eliminating many of the attorney’s concerns ahead of time. When we called Denise to the witness stand we questioned her with empathy and dignified her with questions we knew she could answer while obtaining answers that proved our case. When the trial was over, Denise thanked us – a pleasant surprise.
I Need A Probate Lawyer in Rocklin
If you have filed a petition and now you need help, don’t wait any longer to call us for a free consultation. The longer you wait the harder and costlier it becomes to win your case!