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Understanding how the California probate process works

On Behalf of | Aug 5, 2021 | Estate Planning

The death of a loved one can be incredibly devastating. However, you still have responsibilities to handle even during the grieving period. You have to look into the deceased’s estate and assets — and this can require a great deal of effort and time. 

A person’s estate is handled through a legal process known as probate. If you are a resident of California, it is important that you understand how the state’s probate process works. 

So what happens during the California probate process?

If a deceased person had a will, the court will validate the will and identify the deceased’s heirs. The will should also indicate the executor who will initiate and oversee the probate process. In the absence of a will, the deceased’s dependents may ask the court to administer the estate or engage a professional to oversee the administration of the intestate estate. 

The executor of the estate must identify and secure the deceased’s assets, pay their remaining debts and file taxes on the estate. Next, they should deposit all the estate’s accounting with the probate court. 

After court approval, the executor or the administrator is required to submit the final petition for asset distribution. The court then sets a hearing so the judge can sign the final distribution. From there, the assets are distributed to the beneficiaries as the executor files the final discharge declaration. 

Can you speed up the probate process?

California has provisions that allow the dependents to speed up the distribution of the deceased’s estate. Here are two ways you can speed up, or totally eliminate, the probate process:

  • Invoking the spousal property petition to transfer the deceased’s assets to the surviving spouse
  • Through a declaration that allows dependents to receive the deceased’s personal property that is worth up to $150,000.

The main goal of the probate process is to make sure that everything about a person’s estate is handled properly under the law. Understanding how the California probate process works can ensure a smooth transfer of the deceased’s estate to their dependents and make it easier to move forward despite your grief.