What is a Probate and Why Do I Need One?
Did the decedent die without a funded trust?
You may need to go to court to request permission to distribute their assets. Probate refers to the legal distribution of property after the death of a property owner. It may involve the distribution under the provisions of a will, or, if the decedent died without a will, “intestate” proceedings where the law determines the beneficiaries.
Many assets can be distributed without a probate if there are beneficiary designation forms on file with the financial institutions. However, if the decedent owned real property valued at more than $50,000, a probate may be needed. Probates can be “formal” or “summary” proceedings. A formal probate may be required for estates with more than $150,000 of “probate property.”
In a formal probate, an executor or administrator is appointed by the court. This person, under the court’s supervision, collects the property of the deceased. Debts are paid, tax returns are filed as needed, and any taxes due will be paid. Disputes, if any, will be resolved. Ultimately, at the end of the formal probate process, the property is passed on to decedent’s heirs free from any claims of third parties or creditors.
Our Goal: To efficiently manage the probate process and make a prompt distribution to the beneficiaries.
What does the Court Probate Process?
- In the will, a person named as the Executor will file a petition with the Superior Court asking to be appointed as the Personal Representative.
- If no will exists, persons may petition to become the “administrator” taking on the role of Personal Representative in a prioritized list that is governed by the Probate Code.
- The will is lodged with the court when the petition is filed and notices are sent to named beneficiaries and possible heirs (named or not), informing them of the date of the hearing.
- Even if the will is uncontested, and there are no objections to the petition, the hearing will still take place.
- Next, the Personal Representative will inventory the estate’s assets, locate creditors, pay bills, file tax returns, and manage the estate assets.
- Upon completion of all Personal Representative’s duties, another petition is filed with the court requesting the distribution of the estate to the beneficiaries. If the petition is granted, the assets are distributed to the beneficiaries and final tax returns are filed.