What You Need to Know About Probate Law in California

Probate involves a case in which the property or assets of someone who died is distributed to their heirs, verifying the validity of a will by the court and/or it involves taking care of the deceased’s financial obligations. In California, sometimes probate can be avoided if the deceased had a living trust or his or her assets were in joint tendency with someone else, such as a surviving spouse or a business partner.

No Probate Necessary

The surviving spouse has to file a Spouse Petition for Probate to claim the deceased assets. Although the court is involved, the process doesn’t take very long and they can claim the assets once the court approves the petition. There is no limit on the amount of assets that can be claimed in this manner.

If the deceased assets, excluding real property, amounted to $150,000 or less, those claiming inheritance to them can file an affidavit to claim them. If no affidavits are filed, inheritors can go through a streamlined probate process to claim the assets. While this process is much shorter, going through the regular probate process can take anywhere from 9 months to a year and a half.

When is Probate Necessary?

Going to probate court is necessary if the deceased’s assets are valued at more than $150,000, even if there is a will. When there is a will, the executor must go to probate court within 30 days of the deceased’s death. If the deceased did not have a will, a family member can go to the probate court and asks the court to be assigned as the administrator over the deceased assets. The executor or administrator will file a “Petition for Probate” to get the process started.

Once the petition has been filed, the court will set a date and the person who petitioned the court will need to send a notice to all surviving family members and anyone else who may have rights to some of the estate. A public notice must also be put in the local paper as well. Creditors also have to be notified and they have four months to come forward with their claims. Next, the executor/administrator will gather and inventory all of the deceased’s assets before the case proceeds and is settled.

In California, most probate cases are satisfied through the state’s Independent Administration of Estates Act. This act allows the executor to take care of certain matters without the probate court’s permission, like paying taxes, settling or rejecting claims from creditors or selling estate property. However, real estate needs to go through the probate process before it can be sold.

The Law Office of Anne Dowden Saxton Can Help!

The probate process isn’t complicated. The Law Office of Anne Dowden Saxton can assist and represent you and your family through every step of the probate process. Contact our office today for a free consultation!

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