What Are the California State Probate Laws?


Quick Answer

California state probate laws detail the legal proceedings that conclude a person's financial and legal affairs after they die. The laws cover issues ranging from how an executor of the estate is appointed to what attorneys are allowed to charge for their assistance with the proceedings.

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Full Answer

California probate laws outline the process of managing estates of the recently deceased regardless of whether the deceased kept a will or living trust. They dictate how an executor is selected when there is no will or no administrator is clearly defined in the will. Anyone wishing to be an administrator, regardless of the existence of a will, must petition the state for a probate hearing, and the state, in accordance with probate laws, sends out notices to all of the deceased's relatives. If relatives take any issue with the legitimacy of the will, the probate hearing is their chance to raise their objections. More often than not, there are no objections, and the petitioner is made executor of the estate. The estate's assets are totaled. Creditors are located, all outstanding bills are settled, and taxes are properly filed. Finally, probate laws require one last petition be filed with the court asking for permission to distribute the estate to the heirs of the deceased.

Probate is not always necessary. For example, a spousal property petition can be filed if there is no will but there is a surviving spouse. Also, California's small estate laws may be useful if the estate is valued at less than $150,000.

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