California Probate Law

Where the loss of a family member or a loved one is hard to bear as it is, disputes over inheritances and wills can add further strain and anguish. Therefore, it is important to have an understanding of California probate laws for deciding the best possible route to take in the instance of a death in the family.

Overview of Probate Cases
Cases that are classified as probate are ones that either deals with the transfer of a deceased person’s property to his or her heirs, determine the legal validity of a will or allow the courts to manage the financial matters of the person who has passed away.

Furthermore, in all probate cases, there is either an executor that is named in the will who oversees the implementation of the respective clauses or if none is named or a will doesn’t exist at all, an administrator is appointed by the court. The responsibilities of the administrator or executor include:

  • Collection of all assets
  • Paying off outstanding debts and making other pending payments, especially to meet underlying expenses
  • Distributing the remaining portion of the deceased’s estate among the heirs or the beneficiaries.

Although there is no set time limit in which a probate case should be taken care of in California, it usually takes between nine to eighteen months for all lingering issues to be addressed. In some cases, it may even take longer than that.
Courts or Private Procedure
It is generally considered that one must turn to the local state courts for resolving matters relating to wills and estates. Though this is true in most of the cases, it is possible to make the transfer of property from the deceased person to the inheritors without any court proceedings. Yet, it is due to the complications and misinformation that it becomes difficult to assess whether a particular probate case requires a judicial action or can be settled within the family.

There are certain basic factors which go in to deciding whether a probate case needs to go to a Californian court or other simpler methods can be employed. These revolve around aspects such as the total sum of money in question, the kind of property as well as the nature of the claimants to the said property.

Additionally, the classification of the will also affects the property transfer or distribution in cases of probate.

  • Ownership Title

    The way the property was under the ownership of the deceased also determines the eventual inheritors. In the instance of a joint tenancy ownership, a community-owned property that has a survivorship clause, a bank account with multiple owners or one that passes directly to a designee, all property is awarded to the named survivor.

  • Contract

    There are some cases that don’t need to be even considered under California probate laws. This happens when a contract comes into play that has listed the beneficiaries, for instance life insurance policies that have been designed to pay out the benefits to people other than the estate of the dead individual.

Although an insight into California probate laws goes a long way, legal counseling from an experienced probate attorney or law firm is invaluable and is a safeguard against any possible mishaps.

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