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Probate and estate planning

On Behalf of | May 29, 2023 | Estate Administration & Probate

Probate is a legal process that administers estates, settles debts, and distributes assets to the intended beneficiaries. If you plan to leave property or other assets behind, you must understand the importance of the probate process in California.

Initiating probate

The probate process begins after a personal representative files with the appropriate court to request the initiation of probate. In California, all petitions in the state must go through the county’s superior court probate department. Once the court receives the petition, it reviews the document and issues an order to appoint an executor or personal representative.

Asset inventory

The next part of the probate process involves inventory and appraisal. The executor identifies and collects all assets belonging to the deceased. This comprehensive inventory encompasses all of the following:

  • Real estate
  • Financial accounts
  • Personal belongings
  • Investments

Debts and claims resolution

The executor must diligently notify creditors and publish a notice to allow potential claimants to come forward. The executor must also evaluate the validity of claims and settle lawful debts. This process involves negotiations, payments, and obtaining formal releases from creditors.

Distribution of assets

Once debts and claims are resolved, the executor proceeds with the distribution of assets as dictated by the will. Following the court’s approval, the executor transfers property titles, disburses funds, and allocates possessions among the designated beneficiaries. This crucial step ensures the proper execution of the deceased person’s wishes.

Estate planning

Estate planning involves making arrangements for the management and distribution of your assets after you die. One of the primary goals of estate planning is to minimize or avoid probate by using trusts and beneficiaries. Many people’s estates undergo both probate and trust administration processes.

In California, the estate’s representatives must complete the probate process within one year. In certain cases, this timeline can extend to 18 months. Adequate estate planning can reduce the time spent in probate court.


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