The California probate laws govern the manner in which an estate is administered after the owner’s death. If you find yourself involved in the probate of an estate in California, it is certainly in your best interest to have a basic understanding of those laws as well as the procedures used for probating an estate. Given the complex nature of the California probate laws couples with the important nature of the probate process in general, it is always best to consult with an experienced California probate attorney at Schomer Law Group if you have specific question about how the probate laws apply to the estate in which you are involved.
California Intestate Succession Laws
When a decedent dies without first executing a Last Will and Testament, the decedent is said to have died “intestate.” When a Will was executed prior to death the estate left behind is referred to as a “testate” estate. A testate estate is probated using the decedent’s Will. The provisions in that Will (and other estate planning document if relevant) will dictate what happens to the decedent’s assets during the probate of the estate. An intestate estate, however, is probated using the California laws of intestate succession. Typically, an intestate estate is distributed to the decedent’s spouse and/or children if any were left behind. If the decedent did not leave behind a spouse and/or children, the intestate succession laws dictate that the estate be distributed to more distant relatives, such as parents or siblings.
Steps in the Probate Process
The California probate laws dictate which type of probate process must be used to probate an estate. If the estate is modest in value (less than $166,250) one of the small estate alternatives may be used in lieu of formal probate. If formal probate is required, however, you can expect the process to take a minimum of nine months and it make take considerably longer if the estate contains complex assets, has numerous creditors, or becomes embroiled in a probate dispute.
As part of the probate process, all assets owned by the decedent must be identified, located, and valued. This includes both real and personal property as well as tangible and intangible assets. Creditors of the estate are also required to be notified that probate is underway so that they have the opportunity to file a claims against the estate. Federal gift and estate taxes must also be calculated and any tax obligation paid before estate assets can be transferred to the intended beneficiaries and/or heirs of the estate.
The California probate laws require a court to oversee the probate of the estate. The Executor/Administrator may be required to submit an inventory of all estate assets and account for the disposition of those assets at the end of the process. The court will also settle any disputes that arise during the probate of an estate if the parties cannot reach an out of court resolution.
Contact the California Probate Attorneys at Schomer Law Group Today!
At the Schomer Law Group, we are committed to helping you understand the complex and complicated California probate laws that apply to your situation. Even better, our experienced California probate attorneys will walk you through the entire process to ensure that the estate is probated in an efficient and effective manner. Contact the California office today by calling (310) 337-7696 or by filling out our online contact form.