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The California Probate Process: An Overview (Pt. 2)


Resuming The California Probate Process: An Overview (Pt. 1), here, we will continue this discussion, revealing the next steps that occur in probate once a case has been opened with the court.

The California Probate Process: The Next Steps

3 – The assets of the estate must be collected, inventoried and appraised.

Soon after being appointed, the executor of the estate will have to start taking possession of the assets of the decedent that are subject to probate. Here, it’s important to point out that:

  • There will be certain assets that will NOT be included in the probate process (as they will be directly transferred to another party); such assets can include those held in joint tenancy (like a home or bank account) and/or in a living trust.
  • The collection of assets that WILL be included in probate may require title changes (to transfer the title from the decedent to the executor); such assets can include mutual funds, stocks, bonds, motor vehicles, real property, etc.

Once all of the necessary assets have been compiled, the next steps will be to:

  • Inventory the assets – While there can be court-issued deadlines for completing these inventories, there may also be special court forms that have to be used to develop inventory lists.
  • Appraise the assets – This appraisal, which will assess the “fair market value” of the non-cash assets, will generally be carried out by a California Probate Referee who was likely appointed by the court when the executor was appointed. The fair market value will be set based on the assets’ value as of the date of death, and the referee will receive a fee of $1 for every $1,000 of assets appraised.

4 – Any debts or bills the estate is carrying must be satisfied.

Upon obtaining access to the funds of the estate, the executor can then take the next step in the California probate process, which will be to pay all bills or debts associated with an estate. When it comes to paying these bills and debts, it’s crucial to note that:

  • Debts like credit card debt, outstanding living expenses and even funeral expenses can typically be paid by the executor without the need for court intervention or any specific formal legal process.
  • An executor can require any party with a claim against the estate to complete/submit a special court form; in these situations, the executor must also notify creditors of this required step.
  • All claims against the estate must usually be submitted to the executor within four (4) months of his or her appointment. This can only be circumvented if creditors were not made aware of the death, in which case the creditors will have up to a year to submit claims against the estate.
  • An executor can reject creditors’ claims against the estate; should this happen, creditors will generally have three (3) months following the rejection to appeal it/sue.

Don’t miss the upcoming conclusion to this blog series for some more important info about the California probate process.

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 issue? If so, the trusted San Fernando probate attorney at the Law Offices of Darrell C. Harriman is here for you.

To discuss your legal needs and find out more about how we can help you, contact us 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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