Sitting down and having a discussion about what will happen to your assets and finances after you pass away is certainly not an easy thing to do, but it’s something that should be done. You should start your estate planning as early as your graduation from college, and especially once you’re married with children.
When you pass away, most likely your estate will pass through the probate process. This process is the official way your estate is settled through the supervision of probate in California. The estate is frozen until the court determines the Will is valid, all relatives have been notified and that all of the property in the estate is identified. The court will also ensure that creditors and taxes are paid. Once that is all done, an Order is issued by the court for the distribution of the remaining assets. If you die without a will, the court will determine who is appointed as the administrator of the estate and will determine who receives your assets based on a “family tree” of surviving relatives.
Not All Property is Subject to Probate in California
Not all of your property will go through this process. You may have accounts or insurance policies that already list beneficiaries, and in those instances, the assets pass directly to those beneficiaries. If you have a property that you own jointly, the property also passes to the joint owners immediately upon your death.
The Probate Process
Once a descendant has passed away, the Will is filed with the court, along with a petition. Notice will be given to all beneficiaries and heirs, and a notice is published in the paper regarding the proceeding.
From there, Letters Testamentary is issued to the executor of the estate and that gives that individual the legal authority to act on behalf of your estate. The executor must collect an inventory of your assets and file that inventory with the court. The court then issues an order to distribute the assets once all bills are paid.
Contact Lowthorp Richards if you need more information regarding estate planning or probate in California.