Probate administration is the Court Supervised process of gathering the assets of a deceased person who died without a trust, paying their debts, and distributing what is left to their heirs. The court appoints a personal representative to administer the estate. If the deceased person left a will, the named executor will file a petition with the probate court for "Letters Testamentary" which will allow the executor to administer the estate. If there was no will, any person entitled to letters (see California Probate Code Section 8461) will file a petition to be appointed administrator of the estate.

After the petition is approved, the personal representative is responsible for:

  • gathering the decedent's assets
  • obtaining valuations for certain assets
  • selling or re-titling real property
  • selling or distributing personal property
  • accounting for all assets of the estate and debts paid
  • filing the decedent's tax return, and any estate tax returns

We handle all types of probate cases including cases in which decedent's will does not name an executor, the decedent left no will, the executor named in the will refuses to start the process, and cases in which parties are attempting to probate fraudulent and coerced documents.

Exemptions from Probate

Some of a decedent’s property is exempt from the probate process. The following are typically considered exempt from probate, and pass directly to beneficiaries:

  • Proceeds from a life insurance policy
  • Retirement accounts with valid beneficiary designations
  • Bank accounts held in joint tenancy
  • Property held in a trust
  • Joint tenancy real property
  • Other assets with beneficiary designations

While these forms of property are typically exempt from the probate process, they may nevertheless still be subject to estate taxes.

Avoiding Probate

You can avoid probate altogether by implementing a trust-based estate plan. See our estate planning section and contact our office at (818) 957-8800 to get started.