Unless an individual dies with a living trust or meets other specific criteria, their estate must go through probate after they pass away. The California probate process ensures that all of the estate’s debts are paid and that the assets are distributed to the proper beneficiaries and heirs. From start to finish, this process typically takes no fewer than 8 to 12 months, though it often takes longer. If there are disputes or complications, the process may take much longer.
Everything begins with the executor or personal representative. If a personal representative is named in the testator’s will, they take on all duties and responsibilities. If no one is named or the person named is unavailable, the court assigns someone.
After a loved one passes, someone must begin California probate proceedings and file a Petition for Probate with the California Superior Court. This form must have several pieces of key information, including the decedent’s name, their date of death, and information regarding their will, executor, and assets.
The executor of the estate must notify anyone who may be entitled to the estate that the estate will be going through California probate. This includes potential beneficiaries, heirs, and creditors. A notice must also be posted in the newspaper.
The personal representative puts in a substantial amount of work to inventory and appraise the decedent’s assets. This often involves locating any lost or undisclosed assets. Some assets require title transfers, including stocks and bonds, real estate, and bank accounts. Depending on the assets held by the decedent, the personal representative may have to get expert appraisals. Upon completion of this task, the asset inventory is filed with the appropriate court.
Creditors have a set timeframe in which they can file a claim against the estate. The personal representative pays these debts from the estate, as well as all known debts. Additionally, the personal representative or executor is responsible to make sure any federal estate tax owed is paid on any amount above the exempted amount.
Once all debts have been settled by the estate, the executor can begin concluding estate proceedings. For approval from the court, the executor must provide documentation of all actions they have taken on behalf of the estate and summarize all payments made from the estate. Once the court approves, the personal representative can collect their fees and distribute the remaining assets to beneficiaries.
Probate is a lengthy process that can burden grieving loved ones. Through careful estate planning though, you can set up a living trust or other documents to protect your loved ones from going through probate. Learn more about your estate planning options by contacting Werner Law Firm.
Founded in 1975 by L. Rob Werner and serving California for over 48 years, our dedicated attorneys are available for clients, friends, and family members to receive the legal help they need and deserve. You can trust in our experience and reputation to help navigate you through your unique legal matters.
Whether you need help creating a living trust or navigating probate, our living trust law firm's compassionate team of estate planning lawyers and probate lawyers are here to help you and ready to answer your questions.
Our goal is to make your case as easy as possible for you. Hiring a lawyer can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. From the moment you contact our firm, through the final resolution of your case, our goal is to make the process easy and understandable. We cannot change the fact that probate is a long and complicated process, but through our Werner Law Firm Difference, we strive to go out of our way to keep you informed of your case through every step of the way. We are constantly refining our processes and procedures for a more streamlined and calm client experience. Our goal is to have you feel like a burden was lifted from your shoulders, and that we made the whole process an easy one
If you're dealing with a legal matter, we urge you to schedule a free initial appointment today and join the many satisfied clients who have contacted Werner Law Firm.
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Newport Beach, California 92660