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How does the probate process work in California?

Many individuals preparing for retirement choose to establish a will to allocate their hard-earned assets to deserving beneficiaries. Establishing a will constitutes a responsible decision, as you can feel content in knowing that your property and money will lie in safe hands after you pass away. Especially for those with substantial assets, wills allow for peace of mind, as you can determine exactly how your assets will face distribution.

In California, when you establish a will with assets worth over $150,000, your property will face the probate process. The procedure ensures that your will is truly your valid last will and testament, and it recognizes and distributes your assets according to your wishes. The process can take months, but probate makes sure that your exact beneficiaries will receive your designated generous gifts.

Understanding how your property will face distribution during probate is important because you want to inform your executor of their responsibilities and duties when you pass away. Hiring an elder law attorney versed in the process of California probate can help you draft a sound will document, determine a responsible executor and know how your beneficiaries will receive your asses.

The objectives of probate

According to California law, probate has three main tasks.

  1. First, a court will determine whether your will is legal in the court by ensuring you wrote and signed the document.
  2. Next, the probate process involves distributing your assets to your beneficiaries as your will describes.
  3. Lastly, your executor will manage your affairs including paying bills to creditors and maintaining your asset responsibilities after you have passed away.

To begin the probate process, your family member who had possession of your will when you died will send the will to a probate office and your executor within one month. A petitioner, who is usually a family member, will petition the court to engage in the probate process and file necessary documents.

After the court determines the will is a valid document, the court will review all associated documents, and your executor will begin their duties of asset distribution and managing your funds. The process can take any time from nine to 18 months to fully complete.

Knowing how the probate process works will give you better peace of mind in developing your will and notifying your executor of their duties. Understand that California court works diligently through the probate process to ensure that your wishes will accurately resolve after you pass away.

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