Estate PlanninG

Understanding the California Probate Process

Understanding the California Probate Process

There is no question that losing a loved one is a sad and difficult time for a family, relatives and close friends. Once someone passes, those left behind are left with the responsibility of figuring out what to do with their loved one's belonging and personal property and how to transfer or inherit property from the person who died.

In order to transfer ownership from property to the beneficiaries, you must actually go to court, and dealing with the courts and the property of someone who just died is complicated. In some cases family or relatives may be able to transfer certain property from someone who died without going to court, but for the laymen it is not always easy to decipher between what are called "probate assets" and non-probate assets. For this reason, we encourage that you speak with a San Ramon probate attorney from Santaella Legal Group, APC to obtain specific answers about your situation.

You may be curious about probate. Probate is the court-supervised procedure that deals with the transferring of a decedent's property to the heirs or beneficiaries, deciding if a will is valid, and addressing all of the financial responsibilities of the person that died.

In a California probate case, an executor (if there was a will) or an administrator (if there was no will) is appointed by the court to settle the estate. This individual is responsible for collecting the assets, paying the probate fees, paying the debts and expenses (taxes included), and then distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries (those who have a right to inherit), all under the close supervision of the probate court. The probating of a California estate can take between 9 months to 1 1/2 years, or longer when there is real estate to be sold or when there is a will contest.

You may or may not need to go to probate court and this depends on a number of important issues such as the amount of money involved, the type of property involved and who has claims to the property. In particular, deciding if probate is needed will depend on how the property is owned; for example, if the property was held in joint tenancy or community property with the right of survivorship. If it was a payable-on-death bank account, then when the property owner dies, it passes automatically to the survivor.

California Estate Planning Attorney San Ramon

At Santaella Legal Group, APC, our legal team has the experience at handling estate planning and probate matters. We can carefully evaluate your situation and determine whether probate or administration is necessary. Please don't hesitate to contact a San Ramon probate attorney at our firm by calling (888) 698-3951, or you can fill out our online case evaluation form.