Calabasas, Burbank, West Hollywood, and Santa Monica Attorney Eric J. Gold
Probate and/or estate administration is the legal process by which a deceased’s debts are paid and the remaining assets, if any, are distributed. When a loved-one passes away, we can guide you through the probate and estate administration process from beginning to end. We will ensure that your loved-one’s assets are distributed according to their wishes (if there was a Last Will and Testament). If your loved-one failed to leave a Will, then the assets will be distributed through the laws of Intestate Succession. Every probate and estate administration is unique, in and of itself, much depends on the size and complexity of the decedent’s estate.
The probate process usually involves the following steps:
- Initiate the probate process by the filing of a Probate Petition in the appropriate County Court, if applicable, this can include lodging (filing) of the decedent’s Will.
- Notifying heirs under the will (testate) or notifying the statutory heirs if there is no will (intestate).
- Petitioning to appoint a personal representative or administrator for the estate
- Identifying estate property and preparing an inventory and appraisal of the estate assets.
- Payment of estate debt to proper estate creditors.
- Distribution of remaining assets to heirs.
- Payment of estate taxes, if applicable.
What Probate Is, and Why It’s Not Scary
Many people think that an estate goes into probate only when someone dies without a will. This isn’t true. Most estates go through probate whether there’s a will or not. Probate simply refers to the court-supervised processing of a deceased person’s estate.
Part of the probate process includes the validating of a will, if there is one. If there isn’t one, the courts then take control of the estate and determine how property is to be distributed. State laws are very clear on who should get what, and it may not be what someone would have wanted. That’s why it’s important to figure it out beforehand and document your wishes through a comprehensive estate plan, including a Will. There’s more to probate, but that’s the essence of it.