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What Is Involved in the Probate Process in California?

Posted on in Estate Planning

Bay Area probate attorneyLosing someone you love is never easy, regardless of their age and if they were a relative or a friend. Besides grieving this loss, you may have to figure out what to do with their possessions. Similar to other states, there is a certain legal process in California for distributing assets and property upon a person’s death. The property that an individual owns at the time of their death is known as the “decedent’s estate.” The “decedent” is the individual who died. Their “estate” is any property they owned at the time of their death.

Probate is a legal process through which the appropriate county court verifies the validity of the deceased person’s Will and distributes the decedent’s remaining assets after all debts are satisfied. If no Will exists, the debts must be paid, and then the remaining assets will be distributed according to state law.

When Is Probate Necessary?

Any probate case will be supervised by the court. As part of the proceedings, an executor is appointed by the court as personal representative to collect the assets, pay the debts and expenses, and then distribute the remainder of the estate to the beneficiaries, or those who have legal inheritance rights. It is important to note that an executor refers to a person named in the decedent’s will. If the decedent did not have a will, then an administrator will be appointed by the court. The entire case can take anywhere from nine months to a year and a half or longer.

The purpose of most probate court cases is to do the following:

  • Determine if a will exists and is valid.
  • Identify the decedent’s heirs or beneficiaries.
  • Figure out the decedent’s property value or worth.
  • Manage the decedent’s financial responsibilities, including debts.
  • Transfer the decedent’s property to any heirs or beneficiaries.

After a person dies, an estate may also be transferred without having to go through probate. 

Specific assets, such as retirement plans, bank accounts, or life insurance policies that have a named beneficiary will go directly to the beneficiary or beneficiaries. In addition, if a home is owned by two or more people who all reside there, the other owners will inherit the property and it will transfer to their name. This is referred to as the right of survivorship. In some cases, real estate can be transferred using a transfer-on-death deed, which is also known as a beneficiary deed. Property that is held in trusts may also be transferred without the need for probate.

Contact a San Francisco Estate Planning Attorney 

Probate can be a complicated and daunting process to go through, especially after a loved one’s death. A knowledgeable and compassionate San Francisco County estate planning lawyer can assist you with the legal proceedings for probate in California. Attorney Martin Alperen is known as “The Rolling Attorney,” and he has experience in both private and government sectors, including all areas of estate planning. For your convenience, Attorney Alperen will meet you where you are for confidential appointments, and he also offers virtual meetings. Call 415-534-1200 to schedule your free consultation. 




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