California Probate Forms - California Probate

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California Probate Forms FAQ California Probate Court Forms

What is probate? 

When a person dies, their assets are distributed in the probate process. Probate is a general term for the entire process of administration of estates of deceased persons, including those without wills, with court supervision. If a person dies with a will, a petition to probate the will is filed with the probate court in the county where the deceased resided at the time of death, asking for letters testamentary to be issued, giving the executor authority to handle the estate affairs. If a person dies with a valid will, an executor is named to handle the distribution of the estate. If the person dies without a valid will, the court appoints an administrator to distribute the decedent's assets according to the state's laws of intestacy. The court will issue letters of administration, also called letters testamentary, to the administrator, giving the authority to handle the affairs of the deceased. An heirship affidavit may also be used to conduct estate affairs when a small estate is involved. In cases where the decedent didn't own property valued at more than a certain amount, which varies by state, the estate may go through a small estate administration process, rather than the formal probate process.

What are the duties of an executor? 

The executor's obligations are generally to: a. Safeguard the property and assets of the estate; b. Inventory (or make a list of) the property; c. Submit accounts or inventories to the court as required (these could be waived); d. Pay the debts and expenses of the deceased (such as funeral and burial expenses, medical expenses, and credit card bills); e. Pay any federal or state death taxes, if any; and f. Distribute the estate to those named in the will or, if no will exists, to your heirs as designated by statute.

How can probate be avoided? 

All property of a decedent may not be subject to the probate process. Some assets, such as insurance policies or cd’s may name a beneficiary or pass automatically to a surviving joint owner outside the probate estate of the will. Assets held in trust, or in an account or policy with an insurer or financial institution with a named beneficiary, typically pass outside the probate process. Such assets go to the named beneficiary outside the probate process. If it is a survivorship account, or transfer on death account, it passes outside the probate process. Property held in trust is distributed according to the terms of the trust. It is possible to write a "pourover" clause in a will, so that property "pours over" into the trust, which is exempted from probate. The involvement of the court to transfer such property is not required. A bank account or motor vehicle title may also specify a death beneficiary and thus be exempt from the probate process.

Tips for Preparing California Probate Forms

  1. Begin probate. Before you begin preparing California Probate Forms, find out if you're qualified to become an real estate executor. In situations where a deceased individual didn't name an executor, the court may assign one. To start the process, you should submit a application for probate, a valid will, and also the death certificate to the court.
  2. Gather evidence. Collect and look through the information you need to use to submit the California Probate Forms correctly, get ready probate paperwork, and then present them to the court. This process may involve retirement and bank accounts and stocks and shares, estate such as a house, and personal assets as collections and other valuable items.
  3. Deal with financial obligations and taxes, and monthly bills. Be sure that the resources you dispose of can cover all financial obligations, rents, and bills. Otherwise, the legal court will prioritize claims of loan companies. Plus, you're in charge of submitting an income tax return and paying taxes.
  4. Distribute assets. When you're done paying financial obligations, you can move on to the next step. The rest of the assets is divided between the heirs (brothers and sisters, parents, spouse and next of kin) or by the will.
  5. Close real estate. Gather receipts and records, along with other probate paperwork during the overall procedure and after that send them to validate that you settled an real estate and completed the California Probate Forms according to federal and state specifications.