Probate in California

What is Probate in California?

Let’s say someone passes away in California or any other state without having a will. What will happen then? In such a circumstance, surviving loved ones are responsible for settling the deceased person’s debts and winding down their financial affairs. The term “probate” is one of those words that is frequently used yet understood by only a tiny percentage of people. Simply put, it is the legal process by which a person’s assets and debts are transferred to their heirs after their death following state law. When someone dies, the court appoints a personal representative to collect the estate, pay any valid debts, and then distribute the remaining assets by the law or the Will. By reading up on the California probate process in advance, you can avoid making mistakes that could cost you a lot of money. For this reason, it is necessary to collaborate with a real estate professional knowledgeable in the specifics as well as the complexity of the procedure of Probate in California.


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Is Probate always required?

The probate process is only sometimes required. Avoiding Probate is possible if the decedent-owned property is part of a living trust, in a joint tenancy with another person, as survivorship shared property with their spouse, or in a community property state. The same holds for accounts with a payable-on-death beneficiary and property owned by a revocable living trust. A Spousal Property Petition can quickly and easily transfer any assets that a surviving spouse or registered domestic partner has inherited. There is a brief and easy interaction with the probate court. The maximum possible value of any given piece of property is infinite. Probate may not be necessary for some of the estate’s other assets. According to the California Probate Code, Probate is unnecessary if the total worth of the subject assets does not exceed $184,500 at the time of death. The $184,500 cap does not apply to the value of a person’s non-cash assets, such as a car or a boat. A straightforward sworn statement (affidavit) or a shortened summary probate process are options for heirs to collect their inheritance.


What is the Probate Process in California

If there is a will, it is the executor’s responsibility to initiate the process. A family member typically petitions the court to become the estate’s “administrator” if there’s no will. The executor submits the Will and a “Petition for Probate” to the court in the deceased’s county. Some counties charge more than $435 for filing. A legitimate will must be shown. Once the paperwork has been completed, the court will issue “Letters of Administration,” officially naming an executor and giving them control over the estate’s assets. The executor must file a probate property inventory and appraisal with the court. California’s Independent Administration of Estates Act allows executors to handle most probate matters without judicial approval. California creditors have four months to claim. Most executors pay creditors’ bills without receiving official claims. If estate assets aren’t adequate to cover all valid claims, state law dictates the payment order. After paying debts and taxes, the executor requests the court to close the estate. Then the executor can then distribute all estate assets to heirs.


If you have an estate that must go through Probate, get a skilled probate realtor who knows all the legal and technical intricacies. We’re delighted to serve you at