What is Probate?

When someone close to you passes away, the responsibility to distribute the property of the deceased can be a daunting and unwelcome task. Many people don’t even know where to begin. This article will discuss some steps to consider when approaching the probate process.

Q. What is Probate?

When someone passes away their belongings may end up in what’s called probate. Probate means that there will be a court case to deal with the transferring of property, determining the validity of a will, and addressing of any financial responsibilities of the individual who has passed away. This probate process is frequently a time consuming process that typically take between 9 months and 1 ½ years or longer.

Q. When does a case go to Probate?

Probate is in place to help determine the rightful owner of property. It is important to determine how the property in question was owned. If property was jointly owned by the deceased and a surviving individual, it is likely that the property would not need to go to probate because frequently the property will pass to the survivor.

If you have the right to inherit personal property that is valued at less than $150,000, you may be able to apply for a simpler process. Under certain circumstances, you may be able to us a form called Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property (Estates $150,000 or Less). This petition is filed with the court.

If you were married to the deceased individual you may be able to file a Spousal or Domestic Partner Petition. The court may take into account the circumstances such as the length of the marriage and what would be considered community property.

Q. How do I begin the Probate Process?

Typically a Will is held by a trusted individual who acts as the custodian of the will. The custodian must take the will to the Probate Court Clerk’s office within 30 days of the passing of the individual. There should also be a copy of the will sent to the executor of the will.

A petitioner will start a case in the court by filing a document called Petition for Probate. The case, for California residents, should be filed in the county where the person who died lived. Once the case is filed, a hearing date is set, notice of the hearing is sent out, the case is reviewed, transactions are recorded and eventually the probate court figures out who gets what property.

The death of a loved one can be a very stressful time. An experience attorney such as David Knecht at davidknechtlaw.com can help you through the process. Davidknechtlaw.com