According to California law, the estate of a deceased person is a legal entity. Therefore, it must have its own tax ID number, much like a business does. As a personal representative of an estate, whether it be as an Executor or an Administrator, with court approval you have the authority and the responsibility to make financial decisions on behalf of the estate. While you may need further court approval for some decisions, with full authority you can act unilaterally and make decisions on behalf of the estate in its financial dealings. At some point, as the personal representative of an estate, you will probably need to open an estate account early in the probate process. Opening an estate account is not difficult if you have the correct forms, and they are completed accurately and thoroughly. It is a good idea to hire a registered legal document assistant to help you with the probate process so there will be no delays to be able to open an estate account during probate.

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Estate Account Basics

An estate account is a bank account that belongs to a deceased person’s estate. This account will pay money to the deceased person’s creditors if the person owed anything at the time of death. It will also pay and distribute inheritance money to the heirs and beneficiaries. As the personal representative of the estate, it is your task to open an estate account, to disburse money from it as necessary, and to close the account when the estate settles. If there are any other expenses related to the administration of the estate, you can also pay these from the estate account.

Before you can open an estate account, you must apply for probate. Once the probate process has begun and you have been named as the personal representative of the estate, you can apply for a tax ID number for the estate.  Keep in mind, all estates need a tax ID number, even when the personal representative does not open a bank account for them.

What our Clients Say...
“I cannot say enough about the time and money this company saved me. With their help I finished Probate in Tulare Co on my brother estate in little over 12 months. I am a letter carrier with no legal training, yet , I completed the entire process mainly because A People’s Choice walked me thru each step. They filed most papers electronically which resulted in me needing only three court appearances (and saved me from many trips to Visalia.) Keep in mind, all probates are different but if you have limited resources I recommend this company. The Probate Judge complimented me on the good work I received from A People’s Choice, saying this was not always to case with other legal help offices.”
Jack M.
“I used A People’s Choice to prepare and file documents to probate my sister’s estate.  I began the probate process in pro per and hired them after discovering the difficulty in processing the probate by myself.  Very knowledgeable with good technology to keep me informed.  Their fees were significantly less than what I would have had to pay for an attorney, yet their services were excellent. I can’s see where an attorney would have been any better (or as good). Highly recommend this service.”
Ron C.
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M. Rice
“I am writing to give A People’s Choice my utmost recommendation. Living in New England, I found them on the web. After speaking with a staff member on the phone I had the confidence to give them my business. A People’s Choice handled my probate case with great professionalism and knowledge. My case turned out to be more complicated than originally believed, and the staff walked me through each step. They always responded promptly to my email questions. In the end, their service was exactly what I hoped for; they saved me thousands of dollars and allowed me to do it from across the country. They were truly a pleasure to work with.”
K. Levenson
“A People Choice provided excellent support with the appropriate legal documents and filing process in a spousal property petition after my husband passed. Lawyers wanted to charge me a fortune. However, once I spoke with someone at A People’s Choice, they took on my case and guided me through every step. A People’s Choice has years of experience, which gave me a sense of trust and confidence. I always got immediate feedback from every email request. If you need probate help, I would highly recommend A People’s Choice.”
Sylvia A
“I had a great experience with my California probate case using A People’s Choice! The people that assisted me were so helpful.  I certainly could not have done this probate by myself.  The best part was that I was able to save over $10,000 in lawyer fees!  All my emails were always returned so quickly. Needless to say, I am a very satisfied customer.  I would highly recommend A People’s Choice to all my friends and family!”
Joi C
“When my mother-in-law passed away last year, we didn’t know what to do. We contacted A People’s Choice and from day one they were very helpful. They held our hand every step of the way, and if I had a question any time of the day or night someone got back to me within a few hours. I highly recommend A People’s Choice if you don’t know what to do and don’t want to pay the high price of a lawyer, especially if you don’t have much money.”
Mikki C
“A People’s Choice helped us throughout our entire year-long probate making the process very easy and manageable while at the same time saving us thousands of dollars in lawyer’s fees. Not only were they extremely friendly and fast to respond to our questions but they made the process simple enough that we hardly ever had to contact the courthouse directly and we even had a hearing done without an appearance. Would highly recommend A People’s Choice to anyone!”
A. Vuckovich
“I must say that A People’s Choice is a very responsible and effective company. The staff there is very nice and replied to all my questions by email quickly. With their help, I accomplished the probate in 8 months successfully and saved at least $10,000.00 in attorney fees, so I strongly recommend everybody to contract with A People’s Choice and let them help you with your legal documents. You will be very satisfied with their work as I did!!!!”
C. Chiu
“Thanks to A People’s Choice, I was able to get through a probate matter very smoothly. I had not one issue with the Courts. They guided me through the whole probate until the very end. I live up north, but that didn’t matter, A People’s Choice did an excellent job keeping me informed with everything that I needed to do. I saved THOUSANDS of dollars by going with A People’s Choice. You can’t go wrong, no matter what your needs are. I saved a lot of money by not having to pay out a percentage to an attorney. Many thanks to the staff at A People’s Choice for the great help they give to everyone in their times of need like I was! Thank You.”
R. Leonard
“When my father passed away without a will, we needed help handling the transfer of his assets. Since there weren’t significant assets, I didn’t want to spend too much on the legal paperwork. A People’s Choice offered just the right service we needed. In particular, the staff was very responsive to our document filing needs, helping to turn around corrections almost immediately. They helped to ease a tough situation.”
Michael C.
“I used A People’s Choice for help with a probate matter. My grandfather died Christmas of 2016. He had a living trust, but no one was able to find it. We went to A People’s Choice, and we were able to do a probate affidavit to get what was left of my grandfather’s estate. Took two days for the documents to be prepared and the bank accepted them without any questions. Sandy was the one who assisted us, and we really appreciate the help that was provided. A+ service.”
David R.
“A People’s Choice worked on my probate case for over 1 year. Their knowledge, dedication, and commitment to clients are exceptional, preparing the required legal documents, and all the court filings. They used the e-filing system which really expedited the process. They always answered my emails in a very timely manner and were professional. The probate process is long and sometimes seems overwhelming. It’s also very expensive, A People’s Choice saved me thousands of dollars as compared to an attorney. I would highly recommend A People’s Choice for your probate needs. It’s cost effective, and they handle the entire process from beginning to end!”
C.K..
“Probate itself is a frustrating and expensive process. A People’s Choice was professional and courteous throughout a long probate process. Everyone I came in contact with at A People’s Choice was exceptionally helpful, patient, and professional. For those entering into the probate process, I must warn you that it is difficult to understand. The staff at A People’s Choice makes it as tolerable you could wish for.  The people who work there were kind, efficient, and understanding.  If you email your questions, they’ll get back to you and won’t make you feel like you are ignorant if you are unclear about any part of the process.”
Marcel B
“I needed help understanding and filling out legal documents, but I didn’t have enough money to pay for an attorney. After searching the internet, I found A People’s Choice. I was relieved to know that I would get the exact service that I needed at an affordable price. The staff was very professional and helpful with my legal documents. They worked around my schedule and responded to my emails in a timely manner. They took care of all the paperwork and filing and kept me posted. I would highly recommend A People’s Choice for your legal documents as you will get outstanding service at an affordable price.
Sharon B.
“After not having my call returned from a probate lawyer, I looked into doing a Spousal Property Petition myself.  A People’s Choice assisted me through the whole probate process and everything went smoothly.  When I appeared in court, I didn’t have to say a word. The judge just said, “granted.”  Using A People’s Choice I saved thousands of dollars, and I’m so glad that probate attorney didn’t return my call.  I highly recommend A People’s Choice.”
Donna G.
“A People’s Choice walked me through the entire probate process. This company is very professional and helpful and made a scary probate pretty much stress free. I would send an email with a question I had thought of over the weekend with the expectation I would get an answer on Monday but lo and behold, I often got an answer within minutes! Thank you to the staff for your guidance and patience to talk me through such a difficult time. You made the process very smooth! Probably saved us about $10,000! We are very pleased and will be referring our friends/family to A People’s Choice!”
L. Garrett.
“I had hoped to have my probate process taken care of by myself to save money. After the fourth attempt to file at the Clerk’s office, I left in tears and faced the reality of hiring an attorney. I look on the internet to find one and came across A People’s Choice. They offered a price that was way below what attorneys charge! They guided me through every step of the process and wrote up all the paperwork so that all I had to do was sign. It was really an amazing experience. They are a pleasure to work with.”
D. Chase.
“Thank you so much for all your help through this California probate process.  By using your company instead of a California probate lawyer, we were able to cut our expenses dramatically.  Thank you for answering my many questions and for giving me a heads up on documents that could be prepared in advance in order to save time and money.  There was always someone available to help! Thank you again.”
Craig K.

Benefits of an Estate Account in Probate

There are several benefits to opening an estate account during the probate process. First, the personal representative must avoid commingling their own funds with estate funds. You should never commingle the decedent’s assets with assets belonging to any person.

Secondly, having a separate estate account makes it very easy to keep proper records. Proper record-keeping is essential when probating an estate. Once the estate bank account is set up, the personal representative can use the funds in the account only for estate purposes during the probate process. This may include paying creditors, costs of the probate proceeding, making mortgage payments, etc. Remember, the funds in the estate account belong to the estate, not the personal representative.

Steps to Open an Estate Account

1. File the Probate case

The first step to open an estate account for a California probate is to file the probate case. The court will schedule a hearing at which time the Judge will appoint and confirm the personal representative who will be in charge of the estate.

2. Court Clerk Issues Letters

Once the court appoints a personal representative and signed the Order for Probate, the Court Clerk will need to issue Letters to the personal representative. These Letters are actually a single-paged document that confirms the authority granted by the Court to the personal representative. You can think of it as a type of “Driver’s License” that can be presented to anyone necessary to confirm you are the court-appointed representative of the estate. Remember to order several certified copies of the Letters from the court. Most agencies will not accept a photocopy as proof of authority.

3. Apply for tax ID number for the estate

This step can only take place after the Judge signs the Order for Probate and the Court Clerk has issued Letters of authority. Once these two steps are complete, the personal representative can now apply to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for an estate tax ID number (EIN). This is the same process as an employer would do for their employer tax id (EIN = employer identification number). This EIN is a tax identification number that different entities such as employers, churches, trusts, corporations, partnerships, and other entities use to file various tax returns with the IRS. In this regard, to open an estate bank account in the name of the estate, the bank requires an EIN. The good news is that you can easily obtain your estate tax EIN online. Completing the application takes only minutes, and the EIN number is issued immediately.

4. Select the Bank

Now that you have your estate tax ID number, you will need to go to a bank of your choosing to set up the estate account. Take the letter with your tax ID number, a copy of the Order for Probate and Letters with you. The bank will require to see these before setting up the account.

5. Deposit Funds and Open Estate Account

There will undoubtedly be forms the bank will ask to you complete to set up the estate account. Consider what options the bank offers for their bank customers. Remember, an estate account is just like any other kind of bank account, and you may consider accounts that offer low to zero associated costs with a minimum balance, free checks, bill pay, and other services.

As you can see, opening an estate account is simple enough that you do not need a lawyer to do it for you. However, the probate process is much more complicated and we don’t recommend tackling that process without professional help. Surely you do not want to take risks by making mistakes in your documents. Unfortunately, we often hear of cases suffering from unnecessary delays when people try to file probate on their own without proper help.

Estate Accounts and Probate Made Simple

Hiring a registered legal document assistant can help you avoid glitches in the probate process without the unnecessary costs of hiring a probate lawyer. We feel it is essential for our customers to be well-informed and educated. Knowledge empowers our clients and makes their job as personal representative easier. Using the experienced, efficient, and cost-savings probate services of A People’s Choice is a great way to complete California probate. We have helped thousands of customers just like you successfully complete probate. Using our services is a great way to save money as compared to hiring an attorney. Contact us today at 800-747-280 to learn how we can help you with the documents you need to open an estate account and complete your California probate.

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