Los Angeles Probate Process
When someone dies, the money and property which makes up their estate will be distributed to their heirs. Usually, for those assets to be properly distributed, the estate must go through a Los Angeles probate process. This involves several steps, including proving the existence of a valid will (if applicable), identifying and inventorying the property, appraising the property, paying debts and taxes, and then distributing the remaining property.
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Before the proceedings can get underway, the court needs to appoint someone to oversee the process. If there is a will, it typically designates a personal representative to take on this duty. If not, the court will appoint someone to serve in that role. The personal representative must be impartial in his or her representation of all parties who have an interest in the estate. This person will take possession of the estate property and distribute that property accordingly.
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How Does the Probate Process Work in California?
Here are the 7 basic steps required in the California probate process.
Step 1: Filing the Petition in Los Angeles Probate Process
The first step in initiating probate proceedings is filing a petition with the California Superior Court in the county where the deceased resided at the time of her death. This petition will trigger the court to schedule a hearing in approximately thirty (30) days.
Step 2: Handling of Notices
Upon filing the petition with the court, the court will arrange for the local newspaper to publish the notice of hearing a minimum of three times. It is also necessary to mail the notice to everyone named in the will (if there was one), along with all legal heirs of the deceased. Notice must also be provided to potential creditors.
Step 3: Proving the Will in Los Angeles Probate Process
If there is a will, it is necessary to “prove” the will unless it qualifies as a “self-proving” will. In some cases, the will contains specific language and/or an affidavit from everyone signing the will, which makes it unnecessary to prove the validity of the will. Each state actively establishes and enforces its own rules regarding the validity of self-proving wills and dictates the specific requirements for their creation.
Step 4: Asset Collection
One of the primary duties of the personal representative is to take possession of all of the deceased’s assets, but only those that are subject to a Los Angeles probate process. There are some types of estate planning instruments that are not required to go through probate. To transfer the title of an asset into someone else’s name, the personal representative must take proactive steps. Some types of assets that may require a title change include:
- Stocks and Bonds
- Mutual Funds
- Brokerage Accounts
- Bank and Credit Union Accounts
- Physical assets such as real property, motor vehicles, boats, and planes
The court usually requires an inventory of the estate property. Occasionally, the need arises for a property appraisal.
Once the personal representative has provided notice of the death to creditors, those with debts payable by the estate must submit a claim. The estate will actively pay valid claims as determined. Before making any other distributions, the estate must pay all valid debts. This includes all bills, as well as funeral expenses. California requires creditors to submit their claims within four months of the appointment of the personal representative.
Step 6: Estate Tax Payments
The personal representative has the responsibility of ensuring the payment of all estate taxes, which encompass federal and state taxes imposed by the state of California. If personal representatives distribute the estate prior to tax payment and there are insufficient funds to cover the taxes, the authorities may hold them personally liable, even though they are not typically accountable for estate taxes.
Step 7: Conclusion of the Estate in a Los Angeles Probate Process
The final step is closing the estate. This final step involves providing an accounting of all actions taken by the personal representative with regard to the estate. The court will receive a petition that summarizes the estate and reports all actions taken on behalf of the state. The petition will also outline the payment of fees to the personal representative and the estate attorney, if applicable. If the court approves the accounting and there are no objections, it will enter an order concluding the estate. Once this happens, the personal representative can then distribute the remaining assets to heirs and pay any necessary fees.
To learn more about the Los Angeles probate process and whether you can avoid it completely, sign up for a FREE seminar by clicking this link. Space is limited.
BONUS Step 7: Contact Schomer Law Group to help you with being a Los Angeles Probate
If you have questions regarding probate administration, or any other estate planning needs, please contact the Schomer Law Group for a consultation either online or by calling us at (310) 337-7696.
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