“Probate” may be a word you never hear until a loved one passes away. Probate is the process by which a deceased person’s estate is settled, including resolving all claims and distributing all assets.
If your family member established a will or trust while they were living, these documents typically dictate how their assets will be distributed, and a lengthy probate process may not be necessary. However, under California law, when someone passes away without a will or trust and the value of their estate is over a certain amount, their assets will likely need to be distributed through a court-supervised process.
The first step a court usually takes in the probate process is to appoint an administrator (e.g., a representative) who will be responsible for taking inventory of all the assets and for carrying out the court’s orders regarding the distribution of the estate. When a person dies without a will in the State of California, the distribution of assets is determined according to state law.
The probate administration in California typically takes anywhere from nine months to two years to complete. During this time, the assets involved can be frozen, meaning that no one can access them until the probate process is complete. The process will also include specific court-related fees and costs.
It is crucial to hire an experienced California probate lawyer who can help you understand every step of the process, represent you in court and help keep the process running smoothly to avoid delays.