Probate involves going to court to validate a will and complete a person’s wishes outlined in his or her will. For example, it can include transferring property from the deceased to his or her heirs and/ or distributing funds. In California, the court will appoint an administrator who will represent the deceased and:
• Pay debts and expenses.
• Collect assets.
• Distribute the person’s estate to any beneficiaries who have a legal right to inherit.
The administrator will act under the supervision of the court. If the individual has named an executor, he or she will handle the duties listed above.
A person’s estate may not go through probate depending on specific issues like the type of property or money involved. For example, a person’s estate with less than $150,000 may go through a simplified process instead. Any heirs can transfer the property into his or her name. However, the property can’t be real property such as a house.
Otherwise, personal and real property, life insurance and retirement benefits can be transferred without going through probate court. A simplified estate transfer involves filing a Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property and Inventory and Appraisal forms.
Going Through Probate
Estates with over $150,000 must go through probate court. Probate laws require the will to be submitted to the court within 30 days of the individual’s death. It must be the original will, not a copy. A copy can be given to the executor. If this doesn’t happen, the person in possession of the will can be sued.
The next step involves the petitioner filing a form called a Petition for Probate. This form must be filed in the county where the deceased lived. If the person did not live in California, it must be filed in the county where he or she owned property.
After the petition is filed, the following things happen:
• A hearing date is set.
• Petitioner gives notice to anyone with a legal right to any part of the estate in the local newspaper.
• Probate court examiner reviews the probate case prior to the hearing (he or she makes sure everything was done properly).
• Judge decides who to appoint as an administrator (if none was selected).
• The administrator or executor gathers all the person’s assets and creates Inventory and Appraisal form.
• Notice is given to creditors.
• Tax return is prepared for the deceased.
• Court figures out who receives the assets.
• The sale of any real property is filed with the court.
• Final accounting report is filed by the administrator or executor.
• Probate court discharges the executor or administrator of his or her duties.
Probate law involves more than just filing a petition in court. In fact, it can be complex and time consuming for the person left to handle the estate. Often, people turn to probate lawyers at http://www.youareingoodhands.com/ to assist with probate needs. If you need help preparing or administering an estate in California, you want to contact them.