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Understanding probate in California

On Behalf of | Jul 7, 2023 | Probate |

Dealing with the passing of a loved one is challenging enough without the added burden of navigating the legal process. This can be a complex and lengthy procedure, often causing confusion and concern.

Probate in California involves many details and specifics. Review the answers to these commonly asked questions to help you navigate this process with more confidence and understanding.

What is probate and when is it necessary?

After a person dies, probate is the legal procedure for the court to manage their assets, pay off any remaining debts and distribute the rest of the property to the heirs. In California, probate becomes necessary when a person passes away and leaves behind property in their name that does not pass to someone else by law.

For example, if the deceased person owned a home solely in their name, probate would likely be necessary to transfer the property to the rightful heir.

What assets are subject to probate?

Generally, assets that the deceased person owned in their name alone are subject to probate. This includes personal property, real estate, bank accounts and investments. Property held in joint tenancy, assets with designated beneficiaries such as life insurance policies and assets held in a living trust are not subject to probate.

How long does probate take in California?

The length of the probate process in California varies greatly. Depending on the complexity of the estate, the efficiency of the court and whether any disputes arise, probate can take anywhere from several months to several years.

On average, it can take about a year to a year and a half for many estates to go through probate.

Who handles probate?

The executor of the will is typically responsible for handling probate. If there is no will or the named executor is not willing or able to serve, the court will appoint an administrator. This person will manage the estate, pay debts, file taxes and distribute the remaining property as the law requires.

The probate process in California may seem daunting. However, understanding what probate is and how it works can help you manage this process with less stress and confusion.