Probate is a court proceeding that is essential to settling the estate of a dead person. This includes appointing an executor or administrator to manage the decedent’s estate. Additionally, deciding the validity of the will, reconciling any debts of the decedent, and allocating the remaining assets to the decedent’s beneficiaries are all handled via probate.
Note that probate will take place even in circumstances where there is no will. The decedent’s assets would be distributed through intestate succession, if there isn’t a valid will. Intestate succession naturally favors the decedent’s significant other and children. In case there’s no immediate family, as an alternative, distant relatives would be considered.
The probate process is time consuming, open to the public, and can be extremely complex. However, probate can be avoided by putting your assets in a revocable trust before dying.
The executor performs the most vital and difficult role in the probate process. During probate, executors are responsible for handling the decedent’s estate. The probate court merely supervises the executor satisfying the will’s provisions.
Executors must place the interest of the beneficiaries over their own, because they owe all the beneficiaries a fiduciary duty. Being an executor might require dealing with unexpected difficulties. However, executorship can serve as a way of paying tribute to your deceased loved ones.
Steps of Probate
In order to become the executor of the will, you need to file a petition for probate, along with the decedent’s death certificate and will, with the probate court. Additionally, a petition is required to be appointed executor.
The probate court will have a hearing to confirm that the will is valid. It’s the duty of the executor to provide notice to all of the beneficiaries and heirs. Both groups need to be informed of the decedent’s death and the date of the hearing. Heirs and beneficiaries have the opportunity to challenge the will and/or the executorship.
According to Cal. Prob. Code §8480, executors need to post bond with the probate court, unless the decedent waives this requirement in their will. The bond is designed to protect beneficiaries and heirs. The court can compensate beneficiaries and heirs, if failure of the executor’s duties causes them to suffer any losses.
The executor’s next step is to inventory all of the decedent’s assets and take control of them. The executor has the duty to appropriately manage the decedent’s estate. Additionally, the executor must pay all of the estate’s expenses, such as debts and taxes.
Finally, the assets of the estate will be allocated in accordance with the will. This comprises of transferring property titles to the beneficiaries and heirs.
Getting Assistance with Probate
Since probate can be a difficult and confusing procedure, we suggest avoiding it through the creation of a proper estate plan. An estate plan should include both a revocable living trust and valid will. An additional benefit of creating an estate plan, is maintaining the privacy of your estate’s assets.
With thorough preparation and competent legal assistance, various problems can be anticipated and prepared for in advance. Due to the complex character of probate, the Feldman Law Group highly advises on hiring a knowledgeable probate attorney. With the right Walnut Creek estate planning attorney, it is a much easier process. You can count on our qualified team to carefully guide you. Call today at 925-283-6691 or contact us online to discuss your options more in-depth.