How Is An Estate Probated?

Yesterday we discussed when an estate must go through California probate. Today, we will talk about how an estate is probated. While every situation is unique, here are the basic steps involved in probating an estate:

    1. In most cases, the person requesting appointment as personal representative (executor or administrator) hires an experienced probate lawyer to prepare and file a Petition for Probate.

    2. The probate lawyer, or the petitioner without a lawyer, arranges to mail notice to everyone named in the decedent’s Will (when there is a Will) and all of his or her legal heirs about the death and the probate hearing. The notice must also be published in the newspaper where the decedent lived to let creditors know about the hearing. Why? It gives everyone notified an opportunity to object to admitting the Will and to the appointment of the personal representative.

    3. The hearing usually takes place several weeks after the matter is filed. The purpose of the hearing is to determine the validity of the Will and to appoint the personal representative. Sometimes, the Court will need the people who witnessed the decedent’s signature on the Will to sign a declaration. If there are no objections, the Court will approve the petition and appoint the personal representative.

    4. The personal representative must identify, take possession of, and manage the probate assets until all debts have been paid and tax returns filed. This process usually takes about a year and can be quite complex.  Depending on the terms of the Will (if there is one) and on the amount of the decedent’s debts, the personal representative may have to sell real estate, securities or other property.

    5. After paying the debts and taxes, the personal representative must file a report with the Court. The report accounts for all income received and payments made on behalf of the estate. The judge will then authorize the personal representative to divide the remaining property among the people or organizations named in the Will.

    6. The property will be transferred to its new owners.

For more information about California probate, or how we can guide you through every step of the process, contact us for a consultation at (626) 696-3145.

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