Can anything good come from probate?
There is no question that losing a loved one is a sad and difficult time for a family, relatives and friends. To only make matters worse, those left behind must figure out how to pay the decedent's debts, file final tax returns and transfer property from the person that died to the beneficiaries or heirs.
In most cases, the only way to accomplish these tasks is to go to court. Dealing with the probate court and the property of someone that died is not necessarily a simple task and for some, they may not know if they have to go to court or if they qualify for a different procedure. For this reason, it's always a good idea to consult with a Santa Rosa probate attorney for legal advice and guidance through probate proceedings.
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Whether you're a beneficiary or if you're an executor that was named in a will, you may be frustrated to find out that a California probate case can take between 9 months to 1 1/2 years to complete and sometimes longer if there is a will contest or if real estate has to be sold. However, probate is not always a bad thing. Probate specifically deals with the following:
- Transferring the decedent's property to the heirs or beneficiaries
- Deciding if a will is valid or invalid
- Paying the decedent's debts and taxes
- Distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries or heirs
As a beneficiary, you may find it discouraging to have your inheritance tied up in probate proceedings, but you can take comfort in the fact that every action taken by the executor or administrator will be supervised by the court. With probate, an executor of an estate cannot keep the estate assets for themselves or otherwise squander the money away. What's more, if a beneficiary wishes to contest any portion of the will, or if a beneficiary wants to have the executor removed from their post for failing in their fiduciary duties, he or she has the right to bring their matter before the court.
As for executors, while we always recommend that personal representatives seek legal guidance from a qualified probate attorney, at the very least probate provides you with a basic roadmap regarding your duties and your actions are supervised by the court, this way you aren't entering completely blindly into the process.