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Uncovering probate: What you should know

If you have been named the executor of a recently deceased loved one’s estate, you might have several questions regarding the probate process in California and what it entails. Although probate may have a stigma of being overwhelming, the process may vary in degrees of difficulty depending on the circumstances surrounding the case. Once you received the deceased’s will and trust documents, you may be required to enter into court before you are able to distribute the heir’s property to the people he or she intended to have it.

According to California Courts, probate may handle several different issues, including determining whether a will is valid, transferring property and finances to beneficiaries named in the will and finalizing any financial expenses left by the estate. As the executor, you may be responsible for collecting all of the deceased’s property, assets and belongings, paying debts and expenses left by the estate and then dividing the remaining property to the rightful owners. All of these tasks are overseen by the court as part of the probate process, and may take anywhere from six months to one year.

As the executor, you must develop an organized way of handling tasks involved in the probate process. You will need to keep track of all property and assets gathered, as well as the expenses owed to the estate. It is your job to ensure all property is protected, pay property taxes and sell estate property if needed. Creditors are given a four-month period to come forth with any claims against the estate, after that you can continue on with settling the estate.

This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.

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