The California Probate Process: An Overview (Pt. 3)

Concluding our blog series The California Probate Process: An Overview, here, we will point out the final steps that must be taken to wrap up the probate process in the state of California.

The California Probate Process: The Final Steps

5 – When necessary, an estate asset sale may need to be held.

When there are significant debts or taxes for an estate, it may be necessary to liquidate some of the estate’s assets to satisfy these remaining obligations. Estate asset sales may also occur if the beneficiaries do not wish to inherit certain assets (like property).

In such cases, the estate asset sale can proceed in either of the following ways:

  • With court approval, a court order must be obtained to sell off property like stocks and bonds; for real property like homes/real estate, a court hearing may be held prior to the sale to give others the opportunity for purchase.
  • Via the Independent Administration of Estates Act, an executor can sell assets as long as he provides a written notice of the sale to the beneficiaries at least 15 days before the proposed sale date; this will give beneficiaries an opportunity to object prior to the sale.

6 – All taxes for the estate will have to be paid.

This will include all taxes that are due both to the State of California and the federal government. Should the executor fail to satisfy all tax obligations for an estate and, instead, distribute the assets of that estate to the beneficiaries, the executor can be held personally liable.

This phase of the California probate process can be fairly complex, it may require the help of an accountant, and it will typically involve the following tax payments:

  • Federal estate taxes, which will generally be due within nine (9) months for estates valued at $5,000,000 or more.
  • Income taxes for the decedent, which will be due by April 15th of the year following that in which the person passed away.
  • Estate income taxes, which will satisfy the taxes on the income that an estate received following the death of the late owner.

With these tax obligations, it’s crucial for executors to be aware that, if they don’t meet the necessary deadlines, they can incur additional fines and penalties.

7 – The remaining assets of the estate will be distributed to the appropriate parties.

Once all assets have been inventoried, all creditor claims have been satisfied and all tax obligations have been met, the final phase in the California probate process can take place. This will involve distributing the remaining assets of the estate to the appropriate beneficiaries – as detailed by the will (or California law if no valid will exists).

To make these distributions, the executor must first obtain a court order granting the permission to dole out the assets of the estate. Once this order has been obtained, the executor can then either:

  • Provide a detailed accounting of these distributions to the court.
  • Obtain a waiver for this detailed accounting from all of the beneficiaries.

The estate can then be closed by the court.

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. For more than three decades, 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 discuss your case and legal needs today, contact our firm by calling (818) 946-0412 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.