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The California Probate Process: An Overview (Pt. 1)


Probate is the legal process of validating a will (when one exists) and resolving all remaining issues associated with the estate of a decedent. While not every death will necessitate probate, when this process is necessary, it can be involved and complicated, particularly for those who have never been through this process before.

Shedding some light on what can generally be expected in probate, this blog series will point out the general steps of the California probate process.

While, of course, this overview doesn’t provide details for every possible situation or contingency, you can readily get more info pertaining to your situation – as well as superior legal representation for the California probate process – by contacting the trusted Santa Clarita and San Fernando probate attorneys at the Law Offices of Darrell C. Harriman. Our lawyers have the experience, skills and insight you can trust to help you get through the probate process as favorably and efficiently as possible.

The California Probate Process: The First Steps

1 – A petition for probate is filed with the court.

Probate starts with a petition for probate being filed with the court in the county in which the decedent lived. Once this petition has been filed:

  • The court will schedule a hearing within about 30 days of the filing date.
  • A special administrator can be appointed within 24 hours of the filing (if such an administrator is needed to handle the estate affairs prior to the hearing; this would occur, for instance, if the decedent was a business owner, and paychecks/bills need to be overseen in the interim).
  • A notice of the scheduled probate hearing will have to be published at least 3 times in a local paper and be mailed to all legal heirs and named beneficiaries.

2 – An administrator/executor is appointed at the initial probate hearing.

At the first probate hearing, the court will admit the will to probate and select an administrator (or executor) to oversee the case moving forward. Once an executor has been appointed, it will then be up to this person to:

  • Sign and file a “Letters Testamentary” with the court to officially confirm the appointment/accept this role.
  • Retain certified copies of these letters, as they will be necessary for conducting much of the business of the estate later (such as the dealings with creditors, the distribution of assets, etc.).

For the next steps in the California probate process, be sure to check out the upcoming second and third parts of this blog series – they will be published soon.

San Fernando Probate Attorney at the Law Offices of Darrell C. Harriman

Are you preparing to probate an estate? Or do you need help resolving any estate planning issues? If so, the trusted San Fernando probate attorney at the Law Offices of Darrell C. Harriman is here for you. Since 1980, our San Fernando probate attorney has been dedicated to providing his clients with personalized, highly responsive service, as well as superior representation for their important legal matters.

To find out more about how we can help you, contact us today by calling (818) 892-7093 or by filling out the contact form on this page.

From our offices based in North Hills, we provide the highest quality legal services to our clients throughout the San Fernando Valley, Simi Valley, Santa Clarita, and the greater Los Angeles area.

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