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An Overview of the Basic Probate Process in California

In the State of California, the probate process is not particularly exhausting. After the passing of a loved one, it may also be possible to avoid the process altogether. Here we will discuss the probate process and what can be done to avoid probate court.

Probate Court Is Not Always Necessary

As previously mentioned, probate is not always required. When the deceased owned property in joint tenancy with another person, created a living trust, or has survivorship community property with a spouse, probate will not be necessary. Similarly, if a beneficiary was named on a payable-on-death revocable living trust, these assets will not need to be processed in a probate court.

Furthermore, any assets that were inherited by a surviving spouse or a registered domestic partner can be transferred via a streamlined process known as a Spousal Property Petition or Domestic Partner Property Petition. Although probate court will be involved, the process is much simpler and faster.

Based on the State of California Probate Code §13100, assets that do not surpass the cap can also go through a streamlines process. Currently, the maximum amount is set at $166,250.

A Quick Overview of the Probate Process

When probate is necessary, a person must commence the process. In the event that the deceased left a will, the identified representative of the estate, also known as the executor, can start the process. When there is no valid will identified and/or a person has not been named as the executor, a family member of the deceased can petition the court to be named as administrator of the estate.

The duties of an executor will typically last from six (6) months to a year. In order to commence the process, the executor will file a Petition for Probate in the deceased’s county of residence. Currently, filing fees average $430, however, some counties can have additional fees.

Once the probate process has begun, the executor will need to formally notify beneficiaries, family members, and creditors. He or she will also need to present a valid will to the probate court. Once all documents are in order, the court will issue the Letters of Administration or Letters of Testamentary. These will appoint the executor and grant him or her authority over the estate. Only then will the executor be able to begin the process of gathering all the assets of the deceased. The executor is tasked with compiling the assets, making an inventory of the assets, and appraising the probate property. Ultimately, he or she is tasked with keeping the assets safe.

Obtain the Legal Support of a Qualified Probate Attorney in California

The probate process can sound overwhelming, but it does not have to be carried out quickly. It is also worth noting that probate court can be avoided. Speak to an experienced probate attorney who can help you understand if you will need to enter the probate process or if the deceased’s will is being contested, thus making the process more complicated.

With more 20 years of dedicated experience, Attorney Scot T. Moga is committed to providing effective legal counsel in probate court matters. Consider contacting the Moga Law Firm today for a free, no-obligation consultation.

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