Probate Administration in CA

Counsel from a Probate Attorney Serving Santa Rosa & Sonoma County

As if losing a loved one is not difficult enough for the family members and friends of the deceased, shortly after the individual's death, those left behind have to figure out how to transfer or inherit property from the deceased. In order to wrap up the decedent's financial affairs, you will usually have to go to court and open a probate proceeding.

Probate is the court process where a will is validated, an executor is appointed to administrate the estate, the executor takes care of the financial responsibilities of the person that died and lastly, the remaining assets are distributed to the heirs named in the will. When someone dies with a will it is referred to as testate, but when someone dies without a will it is called intestate.

In a probate case the executor (if there is a will) or the administrator (if there is no will) is appointed by the court as the personal representative. It is the personal representative's responsibility to do the following:

  • Collect the assets
  • Pay the debts and expenses of the deceased
  • File the final state and federal tax returns of the deceased
  • Obtain the names, ages, and addresses of all potential beneficiaries
  • Comply with all orders of the court
  • Take care of and maintain the decedent's assets and property
  • Defend the estate against any will contests or claims against the estate
  • Distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries

Do you have to go to probate court?

You may or may not have to go to probate court depending on a number of factors including how property was titled. For example, sometimes a portion of the decedent's property passes directly to a beneficiary in the case of joint tenancy, meaning it was community property with the right of survivorship. This could include p ayable on death bank accounts and bank accounts with several peoples' names on them or c ertain types of contracts such as life insurance, retirement benefits, death benefits and trusts.

In California, if an estate is worth less than $150,000, you may not have to go to court and a simplified process may be used to transfer property to the beneficiaries. However, this simplified process does not apply if there is real property such as a house.

To find out why it's so important to retain a Sonoma County probate attorney during the probate process, contact Gullotta Law Group to schedule a free consultation!

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