Probate Administration in California

Perhaps you have heard the term “probate” but wonder what it means? Basically, probate is a court process that supervises the transfer of assets from a person who has passed away to the new lawful owners. Probate in California is generally a time-consuming, frustrating and needlessly expensive process. It takes, on average, nine months to complete. In complicated or disputed cases, the process can go on for considerably longer, even several years.

Much of our practice at the Law Offices of Esther Hopkins, P.C. is devoted to helping clients avoid probate through the use of trusts and other estate planning tools. However, families often hire us to assist them with navigating the California probate process. While every probate is different, here is a partial list of the responsibilities involved in “typical” probate.

•    Locate and file the decedent’s will (if he or she had one) with the local court
•    File necessary probate documents with the court
•    Locate, inventory, custody, close and transfer personal assets and accounts
•    Appraise and determine the value of all assets
•    Ascertain, and then notify, all known creditors of the estate
•    Make payments to creditors, discharge the decedent’s obligations and obtain creditor releases
•    Process and obtain life insurance death benefits, if any
•    Secure the decedent’s residence and tangible personal property
•    File tax returns (federal and California) and make appropriate tax elections
•    Pay estate taxes and final personal income taxes, if any
•    Obtain tax releases and closing letters from the IRS, local courts and state taxing authorities
•    Make specific bequests, together with partial and final distributions, to beneficiaries.
•    Provide detailed accounting to beneficiaries and the local court

Accomplishing all of this is difficult enough without the grief that accompanies the loss of your loved one. If you are responsible for probating a loved one’s estate, you are not alone. The Law Offices of Esther Hopkins, P.C. can guide you through the probate administration process from beginning to end, and make it as stress-free as possible.

If you are involved in a dispute related to probate or estate administration and you need to know your rights, duties and obligations, we invite you to call our Westlake Village probate attorneys at your earliest convenience to schedule a personal meeting.