What is Probate?
Probate is a court-supervised process for distributing a deceased personís assets to the beneficiaries provided for in their will. The probate process may or may not require significant court involvement depending upon many factors, such as the size of the estate, number of beneficiaries and the location of real property. To the extent that there is court involvement, the process is largely public, and, at times, involves complex legal filings and strict adherence to judicial procedures.
Typically, the executor named in the will, with the assistance of an attorney, will initiate the process after the death of the person by filing a petition for probate in court. After appointment by the court, the executor will then take charge of the estateís assets, pay any debts, and, after receiving court approval, distribute the remaining assets of the estate to the beneficiaries.
If a person dies without a will (see intestate succession discussion tab), a relative or other interested person can petition the court to initiate the probate process. In this circumstance, the court will appoint an administrator to take charge of the deceased personís estate.
Is Probate Necessary?
In most cases, California state law legally requires a formal probate proceeding before the Superior Court. The primary reasons for having to probate a deceased personís estate are to:
- Establish title to property in the successors
- Facilitate the collection of assets and the payment of creditor debts
- Provide a method to determine and pay taxes
How Long Does Probate Take?
The probate court is accustomed to resolving issues involving the distribution of a deceased personís assets through an objective process of well-defined rules and statutory laws. Unfortunately, one major disadvantage to this system is the amount of time it takes for the court to resolve the distribution of the deceasedís assets. According to the American Bar Association, a typical probate proceeding takes between six to nine months to properly settle a deceased personís estate.
The Good News: We Can Help!
Our LivingTree probate attorneys are experienced in filing probate petitions, and in interpreting the nuances of the California Probate Code. Whether you need assistance in the initial probate court filing or require someone to protect your rights in a dispute with another beneficiary or the executor, we are here to help. Our unique approach in providing guidance and client mediation services enables our firm to truly serve families of decedents by alleviating conflicts and unburdening the family from the bondage of the legal process. Please contact us today so that we can schedule an appointment to meet with you and your family.