Top 5 Questions About California Probate

Law Office of Robert L. Firth Nov. 29, 2019

You may have heard of probate, but what actually is it? Each state has their own probate laws, so it is important to be familiar with California probate requirements. Below, our estate planning attorney in Palm Springs discusses probate in California.

What Is Probate?

Probate is a legal process in which the court validates an individual’s will, ensures that debts are paid from the estate, and distributes assets to heirs and beneficiaries. California probate courts oversee this process. During probate, the court ensures that the proper heirs and beneficiaries receive assets. The court also uses the estate to pay remaining debts or tax liabilities.

When Is Probate Required in California?

Probate is required if someone passes away with a will or without any estate planning documents. If there are any assets that are not held in joint tenancy or that are not part of a living trust, the estate goes through the California probate process.

Can I Avoid Probate in California?

Many individuals choose to create a living trust. A living trust permits assets to be distributed without going through probate.

Other assets that do not go through probate include those with joint tenants, assets considered as survivorship community property, and those with a payable-on-death beneficiary. With the help of our estate planning attorney in Palm Springs, you can help your loved ones avoid the probate process.

What Happens in Probate Without a Will?

If there is no will, an individual’s estate follows the laws of intestate succession. The decedent’s closest living relatives get the property.

If an individual had children and no spouse, all property goes to the children. If the individual had a spouse and no children, the spouse inherits everything. A decedent with children and a spouse will have their property split proportionally.

Moving down the list, the court will look for parents, siblings, grandchildren, and nieces and nephews.

Do I Need An Attorney for the California Probate Process?

Working with a Cathedral City estate planning attorney during the probate process can save you time and stress. It can also help protect the executor. There are many benefits to hiring a probate attorney, including:

  • Finish the California probate process more quickly

  • Limit the executor’s personal liability during estate administration

  • Prevent potential disputes

Trying to go through probate on your own can lead to significant complications, unnecessary expenses and delays, and disputes between family members.

Working with the right probate attorney is important. You should do plenty of research before choosing an attorney. Look at their testimonials to find out how they have handled probate cases before. You can also read attorney profiles to see what experience they have in this area of law.

Let Us Help You Navigate California Probate Laws

Probate can put enormous stress on family members, particularly if the executor has not gone through the probate process before. At the Law Offices of Robert L. Firth, we can help your family get through this difficult time with minimal stress and delays. Contact us today to explore your options.