Common Questions and Tips
About Our Probate Services
ProbatebyME is the probate division of A People’s Choice, a California registered legal document assistant’s office that is registered and bonded. As required by California law, we disclose this information on our site. A People’s Choice is also an active member of CALDA (the California Association of Legal Document Assistants). Our founder, Sandy McCarthy, served as CALDA’s President from 2004-2005. CALDA is the ONLY association in California that has set high standards of excellence from its members. A People’s Choice is also a member of the Tri-County Better Business Bureau which has given us its prestigious A+ rating.
Be aware that many online services do not comply with state law requiring registration and bonding, the process required by California law to offer legal document assistant services in California. If you work with an unregistered, unbonded company, remember that these companies are not legally recognized services under California state law; and you have no protection as a consumer when things go wrong!
ProbatebyME.com is a specialty website of A People’s Choice. A People’s Choice is a registered legal document assistant. Our primary service is the preparation of legal documents; however as a courtesy we can facilitate court filings and provide case management. Unlike our parent website, our ProbatebyMe.com website provides information limited to our California probate and trust administration services. These services include trust administration; small estate proceedings such as non-court affidavits, real property estates under $55,425 and estates under $166,250; spousal probate; and full California probate. We service all 58 counties in California. Our main website, APeoplesChoice.com offers full-service self-help legal document preparation services in all other areas of the law.
As a registered legal document assistant, our services are for the preparation of specific legal documents identified in your Contract for Services. These documents are specified in your Contract and include forms typically required to complete your legal process. Occasionally there may be other forms required that are unique to your particular situation. In some cases, we may complete those for you as a courtesy without additional charge. However, if we cannot do this, we will let you know what the additional fee will be should you want us to prepare them. Our services include unlimited communication by email as well as outgoing calls from our office to you should we require additional information to prepare your paperwork. Our services do not including incoming calls from the client (unless we specifically requested you call us) and those calls would incur an additional fee.
All of our services are based on a flat fee determined by the amount of work we expect to provide in a specific matter. Our prices do not include any third-party costs such as court filing fees, notary fees, recording fees, probate referee fees, and other types of outside expenses that you may necessarily incur in your case. We list fees for our probate and estate administration services here.
Our Client Case Management Portal is a secure portal that gives our clients access to documents, dates, messages and other important details regarding their case. With our integrated client communication portal, our office can securely and effectively communicate with our clients and feel confident sharing with them sensitive materials, documents, events and important details about their case. Clients will have immediate access to filed documents which can be conveniently downloaded for signature or safekeeping.
Our office is a registered legal document assistant service. We are bonded and registered by the State of California to provide legal document preparation services under California law. Our office is not affiliated with any attorneys nor do we have an attorney on our staff.
All customers who hire our services must sign a Contract for Services with language established under California law. Business and Professions Code Section 6410, sets forth the mandatory language for this contract which gives customers a limited 24-hour opportunity to cancel. Therefore, you should not sign a contract for services with our office unless you know for certain you wish to hire our services and proceed with your legal matter. The right to rescind or cancel a contract expires 24 hours of the signing of an agreement for services. After the 24 hour cancellation period expires, fees are not refundable and considered fully earned.
Our fees are for document preparation only and do not include any third-party costs. Third-party costs are:
- court filing fees
- efiling service fees
- probate referee fees
- recording fees
- newspaper publication fees
- any other fee charged by another company
We understand it is essential to have your paperwork completed as fast as possible. In this regard, we have set a standard of completing documentation within 7-10 business days after receipt of a client’s interview or other information. We date and time-stamp when we receive all communications to make sure that staff takes action within these standards.
In some cases, a client may need their paperwork prepared immediately. If you need faster service, we also offer rush/24 hour processing for an extra fee. Just let us know your needs.
Any time we take action on your case, we send an email to the client. Any time we receive mail from a client, we acknowledge it in an email to the client. When documents are uploaded to your Client Case Management Portal you will also be notified. You may also receive reminders about upcoming deadlines and important dates. We will always give clients clear and concise directions of any actions they will need to take. We also provide every client a detailed memorandum and timeline of the process for reference. Please refer to these tools often. If you have not heard from us, you can send us a quick email. In most cases, if you have not heard from us, you can assume that we are still waiting for something to happen which will trigger our staff taking the next step.
All email communications should be sent to email@example.com. Our toll-free telephone number is 800-747-2780. Mail communications and documents should be sent to our corporate office at:
ProbatebyME.com /A People’s Choice
5755 Valentine Rd., #302
Ventura, California 93003
For most of the services we offer, our office will help file any paperwork we prepare with the court. In some unique situations, depending on the court involved, we may ask the client to help in this process. Most courts are converting to efiling which makes it very easy for our office to help clients file their paperwork with the court. If a court does not have efiling, we can file court documents by mail or a client can personally take their documents into the court clerk’s office themselves.
As a self-represented person, remember you are acting as your own attorney. Our office serves as your personal “secretary”, making sure paperwork is prepared, filed and your case progresses. In this regard, successful completion of your case requires the following:
- You must regularly check your email. This is the primary form of communication used by our office. If we email you a question and do not receive an answer, your file may end up “on hold” until we receive your response.
- You must follow directions. Our staff has spent countless hours creating instructions for our clients to help them along the way. If you do not read the instructions we send you, your case will undoubtedly be delayed. These delays result in staff spending more time on your case, and we will have to charge a reprocessing fee. How can you avoid reprocessing fees? Please carefully read all emails! We hate having to charge clients extra fees, but we simply cannot absorb the resulting costs to the office.
- The return of documents to our office triggers the next step. Although our case management systems helps you keep on track, if you fail to respond to action we have requested of you, your file may end up inactive until we hear from you.
- Do not ask us to change our processes just for your case. For example, if we have in place a system to file documents on an ongoing basis, but you want to file your own documents, most likely this deviation in the process will cause delays in your case. If we ask you to sign documents that we will need for the future, please sign them and return them. Clients hire us to help them get through their legal process as quickly and efficiently as possible. We have systems in place that allow us to effectively and efficiently do our job. If our steps are interrupted, the flow of the client’s case ultimately suffers.
If your case is routine and uncomplicated, you most likely will not need to hire a lawyer. Estate administration and probate proceedings are very routine and rarely require legal advice or the experience of a probate lawyer. Sometimes, however, a client may need legal advice on a particular issue. There are several different resources where clients can get brief legal advice without having to hire an attorney. If you find you are in need of legal advice of an attorney, let us know and we will give you options for low-cost legal advice that other clients have used.
Our contract includes unlimited communication by email. Phone calls from the client are not included and would incur an additional charge. This allows every client to determine their own level of services. Most clients find communicating by email to be fast, efficient and best of all FREE! It’s strictly up to you, however, and we have staff that will be happy to speak with you by phone if you don’t mind the associated cost to do so.
Absolutely! If you need your legal documents prepared as fast as possible, ask us about our 24-hour rush processing. There is an extra fee for this, but you will receive your completed documents within 24 hours after receipt of your interview.
We feel we do offer the absolute best prices available and urge you to shop around. We have made every effort to keep our fees as low as possible while maintaining our professional standards as high as possible. When you do compare, make sure you are comparing apples to apples. For example, our probate and estate administration services are complete, meaning not only do we prepare the documents, but we also help file and manage the case through the various steps. In a probate case that often takes 7-10 months, so our added-value “management” services are critical in making sure the matter is timely completed without unnecessary delays.
You can get started right now through our website! Just fill out our contact form and choose the type of probate or estate administration services you need. Afer you submit that form, you will automatically be taken to our online interview portal which will allow you to sign up for the specific service you need. You can execute the required contract online, and then complete our interactive online interview. The information you give through this interview system is used by our staff to start your document preparation. You can also use our secure portal to upload documentation such as a copy of a will, trust, grant deed, death certificate, etc. Lastly, after completing our online interview, we wiill email you the informaton you entered in an organized pdf file. We recommend you to save this file because it is a great reference tool as you go through your legal process!
Latest Articles From Our Legal Blog
A Great Resource for Self-Help Legal Information
We Love Our Jobs And That Makes All The Difference
“If you build it….they will come.” Over the years our site traffic has grown by leaps and bounds, making our parent website and our probatebyme.com site popular resources for people who are representing themselves in various legal matters.
Our visitors are spread across the world and include the US, Canada, UK, India, Australia, Phillippines, Mexico, Germany, Japan, and more! From 1000 views/month when we launched our new site in 2015 to over 100,000/month in 2018!
Knowledge is power when you are representing yourself. Every month we are busy coming up with new topics and publish 8-10 new articles of information.
Every client communication is a priority and our staff is busy throught the year making sure we reply to every one! And don’t be surprised if you receive a reply after hours and on the weekend. Our staff is busy making sure you get quick answers to your questions!
Common Support Queries
Before Contacting Our Staff Read Our Common Support Queries