When a loved one passes away, having to take care of final arrangements while dealing with the pain of their loss can be disorienting. As you and your family make immediate plans, their estate is also going to need attention. The California probate process can seem confusing and intimidating. Especially if you have not been through it before. Here is what to expect when probating a California will:
The Personal Representative Files the Will
The will should have identified a personal representative, or person who is responsible for carrying out the provisions of the will. The first task is for the personal representative to file the will and a petition with the California Superior Court in the county where the person lived at the time he or she died. The personal representative is requesting that he or she be officially appointed by the court in this role. Once the court appoints the personal representative, it will then set a hearing date.
Place Everyone on Notice
Once the will and petition are filed and accepted by the court, the probate case has started, and all relevant parties must be notified that the will is in probate and that a hearing has been scheduled. This includes all known heirs and creditors. In addition to these notifications, the personal representative will publish notice of the hearing in a public newspaper so that potential creditors will also be placed on notice.
Inventory of Estate Assets
The personal representative will have the legal authority to access the decedent’s financial records and accounts and take possession of certain assets. The personal representative cannot take property that is exempt from probate such as bank accounts and real estate interests that pass by survivorship. The probate court will require that the personal representative file an accurate and detailed report of the decedent’s probate estate within four months of his or her appointment with a fair market value appraisal of each asset as of the date of death.
Creditors will have four months to file claims against the estate for any debts owed. The personal representative will approve or deny these claims. Once the inventory is complete, the personal representative must use estate proceeds to pay creditors whose debts have been found to be valid. The personal representative must also file a tax return on behalf of the state and pay federal or state taxes due before the estate can be distributed.
Once the personal representative pays the decedent’s debts and taxes and takes all other required actions, and the court approves and enters an order concluding the estate, the heirs can be paid with any remaining proceeds.
Going through probate can be a long and unclear process, and there are several procedures and requirements to follow. Having the right guidance can make all the difference in the outcome of your probate case. At the Law Office of Alice Salvo, we are California probate attorneys with the experience you need at every stage of your probate proceeding. Schedule a consultation today.