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Probating a will

To probate a loved one’s will in California, one must appear in court and have the appropriate forms filed. These are the basic steps necessary in any probate to establish proof of the will’s validity to the court.

What is probate and how is it done?

Probate is a way of transferring property from a deceased person’s will to their designated beneficiaries. It’s a legal process that must be done under court supervision.

Creating an inventory of the decedent’s property and determining its worth through appraisals is an essential aspect of probate and one of the first steps. This is also the phase when a legal representative is appointed, whose job is to carry out the wishes of the departed by acting legally on their behalf.

Probate also involves paying off any remaining taxes and debts that the departed has. All the property that remains is then distributed as instructed in the will, otherwise going to the decedent’s heirs.

Are there any important deadlines to keep in mind?

Under California law, the decedent’s personal representative must complete the probate litigation process no more than a year after they were appointed. The exception to this rule is if this personal representative has filed a federal estate tax. In that case, up to 18 months may be allowed to complete the probate.

A status report must be filed to the court if the probate litigation still hasn’t been done in that 18-month time period. This should explain what’s left to do in the probate and an estimation of how long it will take to finish.

You will also need to attend a probate hearing. These are conducted in the Probate Department of the Superior Court local to the county where the decedent was in residence at the time of their passing.