Managing the affairs and estate of a deceased person in California can be a complex task. If you find yourself in this position, you should have a basic understanding of what probate is. The California Courts identify probate as essentially a form of court case. The focus of any probate case is on tying up any loose ends associated with the legal issues and belongings, assets and debts of the person who has died.
If the deceased person had a will, an executor should have been named in that document. In these situations, the executor would be the one to oversee all payments of debts and distributions of assets, real or liquid. If there was no will, the probate court will appoint an administrator to manage the estate administration. In probate, all debts must be paid before beneficiaries or heirs receive any property or money. Tax responsibilities must also be taken care of through probate.
There are some situations in which probate can be avoided altogether. These will be determined by the amount of money an estate is worth, the type of assets included in the estate and who is set to receive what from the estate. A home owned by two spouses will most likely be automatically retained by the surviving spouse when the other spouse dies, for example. Cash benefits from a life insurance policy also do not need to be funneled through probate court.
This information is not intended to provide legal advice but general information about probate in California.