California Probate FAQ

Posted on: April 6, 2015

California Probate FAQ

After an individual dies, probate may be necessary. The California probate process isn't as complex as it is in many other states, but it can still be a drawn-out and expensive ordeal. Here's what you need to know about probate in California, and how to protect your rights and the wishes of your loved one in the event that probate is needed in your case.

When Is Probate Required?

Only some cases require probate. Understanding when probate is and is not warranted can be challenging, which is why it is so important to be in touch with an experienced probate attorney as soon as possible. Assets that are held in a revocable living trust or assets that were jointly owned with another individual will not need to go through probate. However, other assets may need to go through probate, especially if the decedent did not have a will.

Who Starts Probate?

If probate is necessary in your case, someone must take the initiative and start the process. Typically, this is the executor of the will. In cases where the decedent did not have a will, a family member can approach the court and request to be legally named the administrator of the decedent's estate. The administrator must complete certain forms in order to start the process, the most important of which is filing a Petition for Probate in the county in which the deceased lived.

What Does the Executor or Administrator Have to Do?

The first job of the executor or administrator of the estate during probate is to safeguard the assets of the estate. The decedent's home must be kept in good working order and be insured, and any valuables like jewelry or furniture must be protected from potential damage or theft. The executor or administrator will be expected to settle the decedent's debts out of the estate and to ensure that all remaining tax returns are filed and taxes are paid. Once this has been done, the executor or administrator can request that the estate be closed, and can then award beneficiaries with assets and heirlooms as outlined in the decedent's will.

When to Contact a Probate Attorney

The probate process in California can easily become overwhelming. If your loved one passed away and you suspect that you may need to get involved in probate, or you were named the executor or administrator of someone's estate, it is important that you seek out legal help immediately. At Farhat Law Firm, APC, we have worked with dozens of clients to guide them through the probate process successfully.

Contact us today for a consultation to discuss your case and to learn more about the legal options that are available to you. Call now at (951) 808-0529.