How Does Probate Work in California?

When an individual dies without creating a will, he or she would have died intestate. When a loved one dies intestate, their estate may fall into the probate process. The probate process can be complex at times, which is why if you are appointed as administrator, there are several things you need to know to ensure you do your job effectively and by the books. Here are some of the questions you may have if you are chosen as administrator of an estate:

What does probate mean?

The primary focus of the probate process is gathering your loved one’s assets, paying any outstanding debts, and transferring your loved one’s property to beneficiaries or heirs. When there is no will to follow, the probate court will appoint an administrator to handle the decedent’s remaining affairs. The probate process can take anywhere from a few months to more than a year to be finalized, so as an administrator, you bear a significant amount of responsibility.

What is the probate process?

A Petition filed with the Probate Court kicks off the process. Once the petition is approved, probate begins. As an estate administrator, you are responsible for ensuring the following:

  • That all tax and governmental agencies are notified of the death
  • That all assets, all money received, and all payments made throughout the probate process are well-documented and accounted for
  • That all potential creditors with a right to claim any debts are notified of the death
  • That all assets are withheld from beneficiaries until the Probate Court gives you clearance to distribute the aforementioned assets. Once all probate-related affairs are taken care of, you will file a petition to request your authorization to distribute remaining assets to beneficiaries and heirs

Once you’ve addressed all the necessary probate-related affairs, you are finally ready to close out the estate. You will file a Petition for Final Distribution, where you will also provide an accounting of monetary transactions. The judge will then issue an order for Final Distribution, which allows you to distribute all assets and close the estate. Finally, you will request your discharge from the court as a personal representative. If you are getting ready to enter the probate process, reach out to our experienced California firm. We are ready to help.

Contact our experienced California firm

Working with an experienced estate planning attorney, such as Jaci Feldman of the Woodland Hills, California, Law Office of Yacoba Ann Feldman, will ensure that you are taken care of when you need it most. Do not delay. Estate planning is a more urgent matter than you may think. You never know what the future holds. Contact The Law Offices of Yacoba Ann Feldman to schedule a consultation today.