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Determining When Probate is Required in California

Dealing with the passing of a loved one is always difficult. However, things can become complicated when attempting to determine how the deceased person’s estate will be handled. In the State of California, if the estate involves $166,250 in assets, the estate may need to enter probate. The following information can help you determine if you will need to enter probate following the death of a loved one.

A General Overview of the Probate Process

In simple terms, probate is the means of establishing the distribution of the estate of a deceased person. This process will be accomplished under the review of the probate court. When the deceased individual had a trust or a valid Will, these documents will help communicate his or her intentions for the estate, including how the estate should be administered.

In a majority of cases, the decedent’s Will will express their preference of a friend, trusted advisor, or family member to fulfill his or her wishes as expressed in the Will. This individual, referred to as an executor, will serve as a personal representative of the estate. The executor is tasked with filing appropriate documents with the probate court. If no Will has been left behind or there is no named executor, an interested party may petition for the role.

Once probate has been opened, the executor will assist in the collection, identification, and appraisal of the decedent’s assets.

Different Ways to Determine Whether Probate is Required

Figuring out whether going to probate court is necessary will depend on a wide range of issues, including how much money is involved, the type of assets involved, and what parties are claiming ownership of the assets.

One of the many ways to determine if probate is required is to establish whether the assets have any named beneficiaries. Common assets that could have a named beneficiary include the following: Bank accounts, Life insurance proceeds, Retirement accounts, annuities, or pensions, and Property identified in a living trust

Another way to determine whether probate is necessary is by figuring out how the property is owned. For instance:

  • Whether the property was owned as a joint tenancy and if the surviving owner will retain ownership of the entire property.
  • Whether the property was considered as community property with the right of survivorship. This will generally mean that the domestic partner or surviving spouse of the decedent will gain ownership of the asset.
  • Whether the decedent’s bank account was owned by numerous people and whether the bank account could be transferred to another upon death.

Hire a Trusted Probate Attorney For Legal Assistance

It can be challenging to determine whether probate court is necessary after the passing of a loved one. For individuals tasked with the responsibility of handling the affairs of an estate, the experience can be daunting. Speak to a well-versed attorney who is committed to simplifying the process and ensure things are kept on track.

For more than two decades, Attorney Scot T. Moga has helped clients interested in reviewing probate matters. If you are unsure whether probate will be necessary, schedule a no-obligation consultation with Attorney Moga today.

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