Probate is the court-administered process of distributing assets when someone dies. While that is a simple definition, as with anything involving the courts, the process itself is not simple at all.
If you are responsible for probating a loved one’s estate, we can help. Contact us today and we will work with you to handle the estate in a clear and efficient manner.
The California Probate Process
Most probates in California take approximately 9-16 months, depending on what is involved. The process begins with the filing of a Petition for Probate, and having a hearing to appoint you as the Personal Representative of the estate. The Will, if one exists, will need to be proved to the court. Also, any interested parties will need to receive proper notice of the hearing.
Then, once you are appointed, you will begin the process of collecting all of the assets, notifying creditors and settling debts. Once all of the assets have been gathered, you will file an inventory and appraisal with the court detailing each asset and its value as of the date of death. You will also notify certain government agencies, file the final tax return for the deceased, and close accounts. If there is real estate in the estate, it may need to be sold in accordance with the probate code.
The minimum amount of time for this period is 4 months from the date you are appointed. Once this period has ended, then you will file another petition with the court with your final report and request for approval for distribution. In this petition you will detail every step you have taken in the administration of the estate, and ask the court for permission to distribute the remaining assets.
Finally, you will distribute all of the assets and receive receipts from each of the beneficiaries, which are filed with the court. You will file a tax return for estate, and then ask the court to release you from your obligations as executor or administrator.
Contact us today and we can help guide you through this process, represent you before the court, and make sure that you are doing everything you are required to do under the law.
Immediately After Death
When a loved one passes away, often there are questions as to what needs to immediately be done. There is nothing that needs to be done immediately, however, here is a list of do’s and don’t’s:
- Do not drive the deceased’s car
- Do not withdraw money from any of the deceased’s accounts
- Do not pay any debts other than funeral expenses
- Do not use the deceased’s credit cards
- Do not close any accounts
- Do locate the deceased’s estate planning documents
- Do take the time to be with your family
You do not need to call us right away, but we do recommend you set up an appointment within 2-3 weeks after death. When we meet, we will help you understand the probate process and what next steps need to be taken.