The probate process in California is a complicated legal procedure that involves many steps and documents. It can be very difficult for someone to navigate this process independently without an attorney, but it is not impossible.
This article will give you an overview of what the probate process entails and why it is so important to have a probate attorney by your side during the entire ordeal.
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What Is Probate Exactly?
Probate is the actual process of administering someone’s estate after their death. It includes identifying and gathering all property that belongs to the deceased, paying any outstanding debts or taxes owed by them, and transferring ownership of those assets to whoever inherits them under California law.
This can be done through an informal process if there are no objections from other family members as long as certain requirements are met. This is called “probate without administration.”
However, most estates require someone with legal knowledge to go smoothly. This is where hiring a probate attorney becomes necessary.
The California Probate Process Explained
Probates usually begin when someone dies without leaving behind any legal will or instructions about where their assets should go after they die.
When it comes down to distributing property and belongings according to state law (which differs by jurisdiction), courts use what is known as “intestate succession” laws that dictate which family members inherit the deceased individual’s property.
What Happens During Probate?
The following steps happen during probating an estate:
- Acquiring copies of important documents.
- Reviewing them.
- Filing the will with the probate court clerk’s office.
- Gathering and reviewing any tax returns or financial documents related to the decedent’s assets.
- Notifying creditors of death (if there is a debt owed).
- Applying for letters testamentary to be guardian over minor children.
The Steps of Probating an Estate
In California, probates can take anywhere from three months to two years, depending on how complicated it becomes. The process typically begins when someone dies without leaving behind any legal will or instructions about where their assets should go after they pass.
When it comes down to distributing property and belongings according to state law (which differs by jurisdiction), courts use what is known as “intestate succession” laws that dictate who will inherit the deceased person’s property.
The probate process typically includes:
Reviewing any tax returns or financial documents related to the decedent’s assets, notifying creditors of death (if there is a debt owed), applying for letters testamentary to be guardian over minor children)
According to state law, partitioning and distributing all estate property by determining who heirs are may have been overlooked during distribution proceedings; this includes paying off debts, taxes, and claims against the estate from spouse/family members and claimants involved with court proceedings.
In California, these lawsuits can take up to two years after an individual dies before their case is closed if they had no known assets left behind without formal wills being filed, which can be difficult for surviving family members to manage and organize.
Why It Is Critical to Have A Probate Attorney
There are many reasons why families need to make sure they have a probate lawyer.
- A probate attorney can advise your family on how you may need to take care of things like property, assets, and debts before or after the estate proceedings are complete. They can also work with other professionals required to prepare tax returns during this time, such as accountants.
- Probate lawyers will guide family members through all legal steps necessary when there is no formal will involved so that everything runs smoothly without any hiccups. This includes what happens if an individual passed away unexpectedly and had not filed their last wills yet. They will help coordinate funeral arrangements, notify loved ones about the death, issue letters testamentary (if necessary), and more.
- A probate lawyer can also provide representation for you if there is a will in place, but the estate’s executor needs help with distribution or asset protection. They may advise on how to get through this process as quickly as possible without any lawsuits or agreements between heirs that could potentially be breached down the line.
- If one person is named as an executor of an estate, then it’s important to have them speak with a California probate attorney about their duties before proceedings begin so they know exactly what kind of decisions need to be made during this time. If multiple people are named co executors, having these conversations together will ensure all parties understand each others’ roles and responsibilities.
They will provide counsel on what documentation needs to be filed and where; help with estate planning for future generations as well as spouses during life events like marriage annulment or divorce; offer expert opinions concerning debt resolution options that apply depending upon whether someone has assets left behind after they die; and explain probate court proceedings, including the role of executor.