Planning for the end of your life, though morbid, is essential to ensuring your estate, funds, and assets are distributed according to your wishes. If you fail to create an estate plan, have an invalid document, or leave information out, your will goes through probate court. This is an extensive and lengthy process in which the court will get involved in distributing your assets. If you’re the executor of an estate and need help navigating the process, a Woodland Hills probate attorney can help guide you through the process.
Why Is Probate Court Necessary?
Probate is often necessary to validate a will, as it identifies the assets and property that will be distributed by the executor of the estate. Traditionally, you must submit a will through probate in California, though not all of your assets must go through the process, depending on how they are included in the plan.
If you do not have an estate plan, all your assets, funds, and properties will undergo probate. This is because the court needs to determine how your assets will be distributed through the intestate succession law. Generally, these assets go to the next of kin.
Similarly, if your will is not updated, your assets must go through probate. For example, if you leave funds to a beneficiary and they pass away but remain named in your will, the court must determine how they will settle those funds and assets.
What Are the Steps?
Probate can be a complicated procedure, so understanding the steps can help make the process go more smoothly.
To begin the process, you must present the death certificate to the court and file and validate the will. Then, the court will appoint the executor named in the will or name someone to oversee the distribution of assets if there is no will. Next, you must identify all the funds so the estate can be distributed according to the will.
Once this is complete, you can begin contacting the will’s beneficiary to distribute the assets according to the written wishes of the deceased.
Can I Avoid Probate?
To avoid probate, the will’s testator must place assets in a living trust. Because these aren’t considered a part of an estate, the assets in the trust don’t need to undergo probate.
Also, the will’s creator can designate assets as “transfer-on-death” or TOD. These funds, like accounts, bonds, or stocks, will be transferred upon the death of the account owner. This helps these assets avoid the probate process.
If you’re struggling with the probate process, having the assistance of a lawyer can make the procedure much less stressful. Our seasoned legal attorneys can help answer any questions you may have and provide advice to make going through probate more manageable.