What is Probate?
Probate is the court-supervised process during which the court will decide the validity of your will, the personal representative or executor will gather your assets and distribute them according to your will (if there is no will, your assets will be distributed according to intestate succession), and your creditors will get paid. We are here to walk you through the process which can oftentimes be confusing.
Appoint Personal Representative
The court will first appoint an individual to oversee the process. If there’s a last will and testament, this document will designate a personal representative. If not, the court will appoint one.
The personal representative will file a petition with the California Superior Court in the county where the deceased resided to initiate probate proceedings.
Send Out Notices
Once the petition is filed with the correct court, the notice of hearing should be published in the local newspaper. The personal representative should also mail the notice to all persons named in the will, as well as the legal heirs of the deceased.
Collection of Assets
The personal representative should take possession of all of the deceased individual’s assets that are subject to probate. Examples are bank accounts, real property, stocks and bonds, brokerage accounts, etc.
The personal representative must pay all valid debts of the estate, including funeral expenses, federal and state taxes, etc.
Distribution of the Estate
To close out the estate, the personal representative must provide an accounting of their actions on behalf of the estate. If there are no objections, and if the court approves the accounting, the court will issue an order concluding the estate. The personal representative will then make distributions of the remaining assets to the heirs.
Unlike the probate process, trust administration is a not a court-supervised process. If you have been named as the Trustee of a loved one’s Living Trust, there are certain steps you need to take.
Talking to parents about finances, funeral plans, and estate planning is never easy. You may view “the talk” in the same way your parents viewed having “the (other) talk” with you when you were a