The word “probate” is derived from the Latin word “probare” which means to test or to prove something. The word used to refer to the process in which the person inheriting property through a will would have to prove the authenticity of the will. Now, the process of probate refer to anything that is handled by the probate court. This includes handling estates that did not have a will associated with them, disputes between heirs, and handling estates that did have a will that needs to be probated.
In California, estates that have under $150,000 in assets can go through a quicker process of modified probate. Estates that have over $150,000 in assets and did not pass through a Trust have to go through probate.
The process of probate begins with the filing of a petition where the petitioner asks to be appointed as the administrator of the estate or executor of the will, if there was one. This person becomes responsible for giving notice of the proceedings and petition to all other heirs apparent. If any other persons claim inheritance in the estate, the petitioner has to respond to those. Once the court has made its decision, expenses and debts are paid from the estate before the petitioner can transfer assets to his/her name. The executor/administrator and the attorney are each entitled to 4% of the estate per California’s Probate Code.
California also has mechanisms such as Revocable Trusts and Wills that can avoid probate. Contact us if you have questions about probate or how to avoid your estate going through probate.
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