After the death of a loved one, you may have the responsibility of handling his or her final affairs. Whether the person named you as executor before passing or you accepted the role more recently, you will have a number of obligations to address before the estate can close. If you and your loved one did not live in the same state, your job may be more difficult.
When it comes to opening probate for an estate, you cannot begin the process just anywhere. As a result, if you do live out of state but your loved one lived in California, you will likely need to come to his or her state of residence in order to begin proceedings.
Where exactly do you open probate?
The location where you open probate can depend on various factors, but most relate to your loved one’s assets and property ownership. If your family member held all of his or her property within the county of residence, you will open probate in that county. Of course, it is not uncommon for people to own real estate or other immovable property in other areas.
If your loved one owned property in another county within the same state, it is possible that you can still open probate in the county of residence and include those out-of-county assets. However, in the event that your loved one owned immovable property in another state, you may have to open ancillary probate proceedings in that other state as well. As you can see, you may have a considerable amount of work ahead of you before you even fully begin handling specific affairs.
What about intangible assets?
While opening probate does tend to hinge more on tangible assets than intangible assets, it is important to remember those in the latter category. Intangible assets may include bank accounts, retirement funds, intellectual property and others. If your loved one’s estate consists only of intangible assets, it is likely that you can open probate in the county where he or she lived.
Don’t forget state laws
The probate laws differ from state to state, so you will certainly want to ensure that you follow state laws when opening probate and carrying out the other associated duties. Understandably, you may not have a working knowledge of California state probate laws, but you can enlist the assistance of an attorney who could help you throughout the probate process.