Probate is a term that can cause people in California a lot of confusion and anxiety. The process can be expensive and take a long time to complete. However, we at the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo recognize that the purpose of the probate system is to afford protection to all parties involved. Perhaps an explanation of the process can help it seem less confusing or intimidating.
The process of probate usually starts with a will in which the decedent names an executor of the estate, to whom the responsibility of managing the decedent’s affairs will fall. If there is no will, or if the will does not name an executor, the court appoints an administrator who carries out essentially the same duties.
Part of the responsibilities of an executor or administrator is to settle any disputes that may arise. An heir who believes he or she should receive more property than bequeathed in the will may contest the issue. However, this happens only rarely, and the probate process usually progresses uncontested.
It falls to the executor or administrator of the estate to collect all the decedent’s probate property. From that point, he or she must collect any dividend or income owed to the estate and pay all debts that the estate still owes. Only then can transfer or distribution of the remaining property to the heirs take place.
The length of the probate process varies by jurisdiction but it is common to take about a year and can take longer depending on the court schedule and case specifics. More information about probate is available on our website or contact us for a free consultation.