If you have recently lost a friend or loved one, you may be dealing with a host of emotions. It can be difficult to make critical decisions during such a hard time, especially when it comes to dealing with the final matters of the deceased’s estate. In some cases, the estate may enter into the probate process in California, which could add to the complexity of the situation. Probate is designed to ensure the validity of the will, if one was left behind, and to aid in the distribution of the property to beneficiaries.
During probate, the estate administrator, or executor of the will, is responsible for gathering necessary documents, including the last will and testament, as well as the death certificate. He or she must then locate the property in the estate and have it appraised. Any bills, taxes or expenses left behind by the deceased are then paid off using the estate’s value. The executor is also responsible for protecting the property during this time. Once everything is taken care of, the remaining property and assets are distributed to the rightful heirs named in the will. Any disputes involving who is entitled to what may also be carried out during probate.
The entire probate process can take anywhere from a few months to over a year to complete. People who leave their estate in a trust may be able to avoid going through this process. Instead, the property is transferred directly to the beneficiaries.
This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.