Some assets may not be subject to probate, such as assets passed thru a trust or held in joint tenancy, or assets with a pay-on-death designation. The probate estate is comprised of all the property and assets of a decedent (deceased person). After a person’s death, any possessions or property belonging to the person are subject to probate administration. This process can look slightly different depending on whether the person left a will or not, but the probate process is a way of assessing the decedent’s financial and personal property. It is an essential process that will determine how a person’s estate will be allocated to beneficiaries or heirs, while also considering any debts the deceased may still be responsible for. The process will also differ depending on what the person had sole ownership of, compared to what they owned jointly (such as with a spouse, business partner, etc.).
The probate of estate can be an extremely involved and meticulous procedure. It is a process that has many steps and it can become a series of complex legal actions. These things all take time and it’s important to prepare for what could turn into a very complicated process depending on the person’s estate. To begin the probate process, a petition must be filed to the probate court, and any beneficiaries must be notified of its filing. If the decedent left a will, the next step will be to assign a will executor, who is be responsible for how the decedent’s wishes are carried out. Without a will, someone will be appointed to be an administrator of the estate. Any concerned parties who may be affected in any way by the probate must be notified when any court proceedings are scheduled to take place. This gives beneficiaries or any previously unknown creditors a chance to be involved or to contest further court proceedings. After filing, an extensive inventory is taken of the estate, and any resources will be appraised, which can include real property, investments, bonds, and any physical valuables. The process usually involves extensively looking through documents and paperwork to locate evidence of investment accounts, deeds, titles, or insurance policies, which may have previously gone unnoticed. This can be a difficult task, and is the responsibility of the person that was appointed as executor or administrator. The executor will also be responsible for keeping the documents organized and accessible for any disputes or court proceedings. It is also important to notify any creditors of the person’s passing, as they have a limited time to make any claims on the estate. Any debts the decedent may have will be taken into consideration, and funeral costs or taxes will be paid out by the estate. The decedent’s most recent income will still be subject to federal and state income tax. At this point, any claims from creditors will have to be assessed, and they may not all be legitimate. It is the representative’s job to sort through any claims and determine if they are valid and must indeed be paid out through the estate. The process must all be conducted within a probate court, and it can be a challenge to get everything filed and assessed properly.
Because there are many regulations and complications associated with the California probate law process, it is important to consider legal support. You may find yourself facing a contestation or a complicated probate, and any mistakes during the filing process can end up costing you more money and time than you anticipated. It can be challenging to determine which debt claims from creditors are valid, and what steps to take should they seem questionable. Getting an accurate assessment of the decedent’s assets can also require professional consultation, as it’s rarely easy to appraise a person’s estate, especially where investments and property are concerned. No one wants to anticipate it, but sometimes there will be disagreements among family members about how a person’s will should be carried out or even who should be responsible for being the executor. By seeking legal counsel, you will be better prepared during these difficult situations as you begin any probate proceedings. Understanding all your personal rights and responsibilities when it comes to executing someone’s will can be confusing. By seeking a professional, you will have a better comprehension of your situation and have resources for any difficult decisions you may have to face during the process.
Seeking counsel for your probate of estate concerns will ensure that everything is executed properly and will prevent any delays due to filing mistakes or disputes. Dealing with the allocation of a person’s property involves many legal considerations, and because the steps must be completed in order and according to specific rules, in can become a slow and time-consuming process. Our office will provide assistance dealing with this complex situation, and help protect you from any derailments that may cause proceedings to become extended.
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