California law requires the estate’s personal representative finish California probate within a year to 18 months. However, if someone contests the will, or if other complications arise, full probate can take years. Therefore, to help simplify this daunting process, we’ve provided a checklist for filing probate in California.
What is Probate?
When a person dies with or without a will, the legal process of California probate facilitates the transfer of property to the person’s beneficiaries and heirs and pays debts owed by the deceased. In some cases, depending on the size and worth of the deceased’s estate, full probate is not necessary, and the heirs can use simplified California probate procedures. Furthermore, if the decedent has no property to transfer, they will not require a probate. However, a full probate, when required, is a lengthy, complicated process. More specifically, a non-community estate worth over $166,250 will require a full probate.
If you are an elected representative of a deceased relative or friend, use our checklist for help filing a full probate on their behalf.
Initiate the probate petition
If the deceased’s property must pass through full probate, the real first step is filing a petition for probate. This form is provided by California courts and filed in the county where the deceased died or owned real property. Keep in mind, the court may require additional forms depending on the particular situation.
Set a hearing date
After you file the petition, the court clerk will set a hearing date for the case. Then, someone will need to send notice of the hearing to all possible beneficiaries of the estate. Any adult not a party to the case can send this notice.
Distribute the assets
Confirm any sales of real estate and file taxes
If you sell any real estate, you must file a report of sale and petition for order confirming sale of real property with the court. Additionally, you must prepare and file an estate tax return if the estate earned any income. Then, you should prepare a final income tax return for the deceased.
File a final plan and accounting
After filing taxes, you must file a final plan and accounting with the court. This plan will lay out how you handled the estate as a representative. If the court is satisfied that you correctly carried out your duties, they will release you from all obligations.
Simplified Probate in California California estates with assets worth $166,250 or less may be settled without formal probate proceedings, using Simplified Probate procedures.
Low-Cost Help to File Probate in California
Attorney’s fees in a probate proceeding can be very high and are tied to a percentage of the estate. To determine the statutory probate attorney fees in a particular estate, use our online probate calculator.
However, if no one is contesting the will and no other complications arise, you can safely file for probate on your own.
That said, if you find this checklist and its details confusing and want help without hiring an expensive attorney, contact A People’s Choice for low-cost legal document help. Although we cannot give legal advice, A People’s Choice can prepare the required documentation and help in completing all the steps for filing probate in California, saving you thousands of dollars in statutory attorneys fees in the process.
If you or an heir need more information about California probate, do not hesitate to call our office. A People’s Choice has been providing probate services for over 35 years and has established an excellent reputation in the community. When you are ready to get started, you can provide us with information for your paperwork in several ways, such as through our convenient online system, over the phone, by completing a written worksheet, or in person.
Keep in mind that we process probate filings in every probate court in California. Call 800-747-2780 and learn how we can save you thousands of dollars completing your probate instead of using an attorney.