How to Probate a Will in California

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California Wills and Probate

California probate laws govern the process through which a person’s estate is distributed after they are deceased. In order to probate a will in California, there needs to be a person who can come forward and initiate the process on behalf of the deceased party. This is usually the will executor, who is specifically named in the will document.

If there is no will available, or if the named executor becomes unable to perform their task, another person can be named to act as the estate administrator. This is usually a relative or close friend of the deceased person. 

California probate laws cover issues such as determining if the will is valid, identifying property to be distributed, addressing debt, and overseeing asset distributions. The executor or administrator is responsible for most of these tasks.

Is Probate Always Necessary?

Under California probate laws, it is not always necessary for the deceased person’s property to pass through the probate process. For instance, probate is not necessary if:

In such cases, the property can be transferred directly to the recipient. Also, certain assets that involve a surviving spouse or partner can be subject to special transfer processes that are more streamlined. These can often help to avoid the probate process.

Are There Any Simplified Probate Processes in California?

California has a special simplified process for probating smaller estates. This requires a written request that is filed by the executor or the administrator with the local probate court. As mentioned, this is available for estates that have a maximum of value of $150,000. While this procedure is simplified, calculating the value of the estate can sometimes be complicated. For instance, the calculated value doesn’t include certain property items such as property located outside of California, life insurance benefits, and other items.

Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help with Probate Laws in California?

California probate laws can often involve some very specific details and exceptions. You may need to hire a probate attorney in California if you need help with any estate or will matters. A qualified lawyer can provide you with legal advice and guidance throughout the process. Also, if you encounter any legal conflicts or disputes over the will, your attorney can provide representation during court meetings.

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Last Modified: 08-21-2014 11:01 PM PDT

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