Supporting You Through The Probate Process
Probate can be a daunting process for many people, especially because it usually occurs after the death of someone close to you. Having experienced legal counsel throughout this process can help the process be more efficient and less time-consuming.
At The Law Office of Jamay Lee, APC, our firm guides clients in the Bay Area through the probate process. With extensive experience and a dedication to our clients, we can help you navigate probate, distribute estates according to the wishes of the deceased and make the process as efficient as possible.
What Does The Probate Process Involve?
In a probate proceeding, the court determines if an instrument offered as a will is valid. If the probate court finds the will is valid, it will then supervise the distribution of assets in the probate estate pursuant to the terms of the will. Oftentimes, the deceased already will have named an executor in the will to administer the estate during the probate proceeding.
If a person dies intestate (i.e., without a will) the decedent’s estate must still be probated. The probate court may appoint an administrator to administer the estate and divide the decedent’s property in accordance with the laws of intestacy. Executors and administrators are also more generally known as personal representatives. Property passing through probate may incur estate taxes if it is large enough. Estate taxes are the responsibility of the personal representative of the estate.
Property owned by the decedent and another person as joint tenants with the right of survivorship or trust property pass automatically to a beneficiary without the need for a probate proceeding. Property acquired during a marriage in community property states like California may also pass to the decedent’s spouse free of probate. Furthermore, property that passes to another person pursuant to a contract does not go through probate.
For example, a person named as the beneficiary of an insurance policy, a retirement account, or a payable on death account will receive the decedent’s property outside the probate process.
To initiate the probate process, a petition for probate must be filed in court in the county of the decedent’s residence or in some instances, where the decedent owned real property. The petitioner must mail a copy of the petition and notice of the hearing to all persons entitled to notice as determined by the will and the Probate Code. The person appointed by the court to serve as the personal representative must marshal all assets of the decedent’s estate and provide notice of the probate proceeding to any known creditors.
The personal representative must pay all taxes and outstanding debts connected to the decedent’s estate subject to various limitations under the Probate Code and Code of Civil Procedure. Finally, the personal representative may distribute the estate according to the terms of a valid will or the state intestacy laws after filing the appropriate petition in court.