How Long Does a Personal Representative Have to Close Out California Probate?



When you pass away, the court must review any wills related to your estate and appoint someone known as a personal representative to handle estate administration. If you have a will, you likely named someone you wish to serve in this role already. The more organized you are, the easier it is for your personal representative to organize your affairs and submit necessary reports.


Most estates will be relatively simple, calling on the personal representative to gather debts and assets, pay off creditors, and then distribute remaining assets to beneficiaries. However, some issues may slow down probate and cause snags, such as the need to file a final personal income tax return, property issues in state or out of state, challenges to the will or other documents brought by others, or difficulty locating property. As such, what might take a few months in one case may stretch out much longer for other estates.


California law says that a personal representative should close out probate within one year from the date they were appointed, except in those cases where a federal estate tax return is required. In that case, the personal representative can take up to 18 months to close things out. If probate is not completed within that window, the personal representative must file a status report with the court to explain what is still pending and how much time is needed to complete that.


Courts do have the ability to remove someone as a personal representative, and that may be prompted in those cases in which the appointed party takes too long or does not provide a reason as to why probate continues.


The better planning you do, the easier it is for a California personal representative to find what’s needed and to take care of your full estate. If you haven’t yet created a will or considered your own estate, now is a good opportunity to speak with a Pasadena area lawyer about your options.

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