What is Probate in California?

Probate in California is a legal process in which the estate of a deceased person is managed by resolving all claims against the deceased person (and the estate) and distributing the deceased person’s assets as dictated under the decedent’s will or pursuant to the rules of intestate succession.

Petition for Probate Must be Filed with the Probate Court

The probate process begins when the Executor files a petition with the probate court asking to be appointed as Executor of the estate. If the decedent had no will and did not have a trust then an interested party may file a petition for probate seeking appointment by the probate court for the authority to administer the estate. The priority for appointment is listed in Probate Code Section 8461.

Personal Representative Approved by the Court

The person approved by the Probate Court to handle the probate is called the Personal Representative. The Personal Representative has many responsibilities but he/she has three primary responsibilities:

  • Take possession of all of the estate’s assets and file an Inventory and Appraisal of the estate assets.
  • Pay debts, taxes and liabilities of the estate.
  • Distribute the remaining assets to the persons entitled to receive them.

The estate’s assets must be protected and the estate’s debts must be paid promptly in order to avoid theft, waste, fraud, or unnecessary expense. Many people retain an attorney to assist in the handling of a Probate to assist in navigating the responsibilities of the job that they must perform.

Contact us now for a free consultation regarding any questions that you may have about a California probate. For more information, read Estate Planning Basics and our Introduction to Estate Planning and Checklist. We are here to help.

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About Andrew

Andrew graduated from Loyola Law School in 1995 and was an editor on the Loyola Law School International Law Journal. Andrew has been a lawyer since 1995. Andrew is admitted to practice in all the Federal and State courts of California. His practice areas include: Estate Planning, Personal Injury, Corporations Law, and General Litigation. Andrew lives in Los Angeles with his wife. Andrew is a Jewish Big Brother and serves as an alternate on the Pacific Palisades Community Council. Andrew previously served as the president of the Brentwood School Alumni Association and was an ex-officio member of the Brentwood School Board of Trustees.

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