After a person passes away in the state of California, their estate will be distributed to anyone who they have named in through their California estate plan. An estate can include real estate, tangible items, and money. Probate is the way that the full estate is identified, managed, and distributed according to the wishes of the deceased.
In California, to get the process of probate started, a personal representative must be named. This can happen either by the deceased indicating who they want to be their personal representative in their will or as appointed by the court. The role of the personal representative is to be an impartial party who will fairly and appropriately administer an estate.
The California Probate Process
The probate process in California essentially can be broken down into seven different steps. These include:
- A petition must be filed with the California Superior Court for the county where the deceased lived. It can take up to 30 days for a hearing to be set up.
- When a hearing date is set, it will be published in the local newspaper. All individuals named in a will and legal heirs should also receive a notice via mail. Creditors, too, will be informed of the hearing.
- Wills will either be self-proving or need to be proved. If a will must be proven valid this step will happen before the will can be used for asset distribution.
- All of the assets that are subject to probate in a deceased’s estate will be collected by the personal representative. Any type of asset that has a title, like a car, for example, will get a title change done by the personal representative. If an appraisal of the property is necessary, the personal representative will handle this as well.
- Debts that the deceased collected while they were alive still must be paid. Creditors can claim that debt exists and then these claims will be examined for legitimacy. Debt that is valid, will be paid for through the assets in the estate. True debt will be established and paid for before heirs are given their portion of the estate.
- All estate taxes, federal and state, must be paid.
- All actions the personal representative took to disseminate the estate will be accounted for and reported. This report will be filed with the court. When the court approves the report and if there are no other protests on the estate made, then the probate process is formally considered closed. What is leftover in the estate will then be handed out to applicable parties.
Often, heirs mistakenly believe that an estate they are entitled to will go directly to them after the death of a loved one. In reality, it takes a couple of steps before this happens. It is also necessary that the estate meets its obligations in advance of heir distribution taking place. A Los Angeles business litigation attorney can explain the process to you.
Speak to a California Probate Attorney Today
The probate process can be confusing, especially if you have never gone through it before. To learn more about probate in California, call the Los Angeles business attorneys at Leiva Law Firm at (818) 519-4465.