California Probate Administration

Losing someone you love is extremely stressful. Navigating your way through the complexities of California's probate laws shouldn't add to this stress. As an attorney specializing in the administration of decedent's estates, I am able to guide you through the process and help you to avoid common mistakes that can increase the time required to complete the process. Please give me a call today. I would love to speak with you at no charge to help get you started on the right path.

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(619) 780-0663

Proper estate planning can help to avoid the time consuming and costly process of a California probate. Unfortunately, many put off creating an estate plan and end up paying the courts and attorney much more than is necessary to administer their estates. If your loved one did not have an estate plan, it is not the end of the world. However, probate is usually not something you want to take lightly. Mistakes are likely to cost you time and money.

My Loved One Did Not Have a Will

When someone dies without a will they are considered to die intestate. California, as well as all other states, has created a default set of rules that will apply to the distribution of a decedent's assets. These rules are called intestate succession and they are fairly complex. While these rules ensure that the property is moved out of the decedent's name, these rules can have some unexpected or unwanted results. I would love to speak with you and explain how your assets would be transfered if you did not leave a will.

Do I Need to Probate the Estate?

Probate is the judicial procedure by which a document is established to be a valid will and the administration of a decedent's estate. Unless plans are made during the decedent's lifetime, probate is generally required to transfer the decedent's property to his or her survivors. I say generally because California offers several different alternatives to a full blown probate. Some of these alternatives include a small probate estate and a spousal petition. As stated above, avoiding a California probate is usually to your advantage, however, there are some instances that you would want to probate rather than use one of these alternatives. I would love to discuss your options at no cost to you.

Steps to Take Before Probating an Estate

  1. Locate the will (if there is one) and make copies. It is also a good idea to keep a scanned copy on your computer in case you need more copies at a later date.
  2. Order certified copies of the death certificate. Any interaction with a financial institution, brokerage firm, etc. will require a certified copy of the death certificate. It is wise to order several copies.
  3. Determine who will be the administrator of the estate. Running an estate takes time and organization. Select someone that is comfortable dealing with financial matters, who is honest, and who will make sure that the estate moves forward in a timely manner.
  4. Start gathering the names, ages, and addresses of the heirs and beneficiaries. When there is no will to tell you who is to receive certain property, California law will dicate the distribution. You will need to carefully examine intestate succuession laws to determine the proper distribution of the estate's assets.
  5. Determing the decedent's place of residence. If the decedent only lived in California, this will be a very simple process. If they lived in several different places (home, vacation homes, etc) you might have to determine where the decedent actually resided when he or she died.
  6. Gather the estate property. One of the most challenging parts of being the executor of an estate where the decedent was not particularly organized is locating all of their property. This process is called marshalling and it is one of the duties required of you when you agree to be the personal representative of someone's estate. One of the easiest ways to locate brokerage accounts, bank accounts, life insurance, retirement accounts, etc. is to monitor the decedent's mail.
Click here for more instructions on opening an administration in California