Frequently Asked Questions About Probate And Estate Administration
What Happens If My Loved One Dies Without A Will?
The settling of an estate of someone who died without a will is known as intestate succession. Assets in such cases will go to heirs defined by kinship: If the deceased person was married, all community property goes to the spouse and all separate property is divided among the widow(er) and some combination of children, grandchildren, parents, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews, and in some cases, stepchildren, depending on the family structure. California’s probate laws answer all the “what if?” questions about lines of inheritance in great detail.
A knowledgeable probate law attorney is a valuable guide for all such processes. The lawyers of Griswold LaSalle Cobb Dowd & Gin LLP have more than 200 years’ worth of combined experience. We are ready to help your family in such a case.
How Long Does Probate Take In California?
Estimates vary among experienced probate law attorneys and depending on the complexity of an estate, with typical ranges of six months to two years, including a four-month creditors’ claims period.
Who Takes Care Of The Probate Process?
After a death covered by a will, the named executor will be appointed as the personal representative by the probate court. The personal representative is responsible to the probate court. Most personal representatives hire lawyers to help ensure that they fulfill all requirements.
If there is no will, the court may appoint an executor. If there is no willing executor available, the probate court may appoint a professional administrator to complete the necessary steps.
What Does Going Through Probate Entail?
A brief summary of necessary steps in most probate processes includes:
- Petition of the probate court to start the process
- Publication in a local newspaper
- Notification of all interested parties, including creditors and beneficiaries or heirs
- Issuing of a document by the court that allows the personal representative to gather assets, deal with creditors, pay taxes, confirm identity of all beneficiaries or heirs, request a court date, and at that court hearing, obtain a signed order by a probate judge
- Distribution of assets
This description is not intended to be comprehensive or cover all contingencies. It is here for illustrative purposes only.
Should I Hire An Attorney To Go Through Probate?
Trying to complete this process on your own as the executor (to be named personal representative) without an attorney is risky at best. Many people who make mistakes or fail to complete necessary steps find themselves entangled in litigation with creditors, heirs and/or the probate court.