How Does the California Probate Process Work?

The California probate process can seem overwhelming for the family as well as the estate administrator. In this post, you’ll learn the basics of the California probate process.

Naming an Administrator or Personal Estate Representative

Before the California probate process officially begins, an estate administrator or a personal estate representative must be named. Someone may be designated in the Last Will and Testament. The California probate court will determine whether the will is valid during the probate process once a hearing is scheduled. They may appoint the person named in the will. If there is no will or if the will is determined to be invalid, the probate court will appoint a personal estate representative. This person is responsible for handling the estate as well as for answering to the court.

A Probate Petition Must Be Filed

To officially begin the California probate process, a probate petition must be filed file with California Superior Court in the county where the deceased lived at the time of death. A hearing will be scheduled around 30 days later.

Notice of Hearing Must Be Published and Mailed

The notice of hearing acts as a way to inform others of the death. This is done by publishing the notice in no fewer than three times in the local newspaper. A notice of hearing must be mailed to everyone named in the will as well as all legal heirs. If there is no will, a copy of the notice must be provided to any known family members or potential legal heirs. Creditors must also be given a copy of the notice.

The Existing Will Is Proven as Valid

If a will exists, the California probate court will determine if it is valid. If the will is considered valid, it will be followed to distribute the estate after expenses are paid. If there is no will or if the existing will is considered invalid, the state will follow intestate laws.

Taking Possession and Accounting for the Assets Within the Estate

One of the main responsibilities of the administrator is to take possession of and account for the assets within the estate. Not all assets will go through the probate process. However, there are certain actions that must be done for certain types of assets. For example, if the decedent was married, their share of the community property must be properly transferred over to the surviving spouse. They are also entitled to a certain portion of the personal property (if there is no will) according to the law. Some assets may need to be valued. The personal representative must create an inventory of assets and provide it to the California probate court.

Creditors Must Be Paid

Once creditors are notified, they have four months to file a claim against the estate after an administrator is appointed. The claims are reviewed. Valid claims must be paid before any distributions can be made from the estate. This includes personal bills of the deceased as well as final expenses.

Tax Payments Must Be Made

The estate representative is required to pay estate taxes. Estate taxes can be at both the federal and state level. The estate may or may not be held personally liable for the estate taxes depending on whether distributions were made before taxes were paid.

A Final Accounting Is Made to the California Probate Court

After everything is paid, the personal representative must provide a final accounting of the estate to the California probate court. Then, the beneficiaries or heirs will receive their assets. The representative will also pay any necessary fees. Legal fees for California probate are based on the worth of the estate.

If you’re a legal heir or beneficiary, ProbateSimple may be able to help you collect your inheritance faster. To learn more about our services, click here and answer a few simple questions.

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