What is Probate? Probate is a court procedure held in probate court that requires an estate representative to do an inventory and gather all the assets of the estate, give notice of the probate to all interested parties (including potential creditors), pay the debts and taxes owed by the decedent and then, eventually, distribute the estate assets. Probate usually involves a will. However, if one dies without a will, the court will probate the decedent’s estate, a process called intestate probate. We at East Bay Probate and Trust Administration can and does handle both types of probate. This article covers the general Probate Process, and an executor’s guide to settle an estate (from filing petition with the Probate court to closing down the estate)in California. Bear in mind that no estate is perfectly typical.
Our office has the necessary support to help the estate representative marshal the estate assets and prepare a proper inventory for the court to review. Support from our private investigator may be needed to find heirs that may have an interest in the estate but have had little or no contact with decedent such as children born from previous marriages or relationships.
It is important for the estate representative to cancel all of the decedent’s credit cards, magazine and newspaper subscriptions as well as having the decedent’s mail forwarded. Perhaps surrendering rented property is advisable to eliminate unnecessary rental obligations. We will notify the Social Security office of the death of decedent and ask the estate representative to return all social security checks for the month that decedent died and any months thereafter. We will help to arrange for care of pets and property that needs immediate attention. There may be tax issues that our office can guide you through using our CPA and tax specialist.
To begin the probate process, a Petition for Probate is filed with the Probate court. In Alameda County this cost for the first filing is $465.00. Once this first filing is completed, notice of the upcoming court date must be published 3 times in a newspaper, once a week. At the first court hearing a representative for the estate will be appointed.
This representative will be responsible to collect and manage decedent’s assets that are subject to probate. Many assets may not need to be probated because the decedent identified, while they were alive, to whom the asset should go such as life insurance proceeds, money held in bank accounts or stocks, bonds or mutual funds. The representative will also be required, within 4 months after the estate representative has been appointed by the court, to file with the probate court an inventory and appraisal of decedent’s property. Our office has the necessary support staff to help you quickly and properly prepare the inventory and appraisal for the court. Creditor’s claims will need to be reviewed and addressed. The California Franchise Tax Board must be notified of the death of decedent. All of these tasks can be handled by our office.
Within 1 year after issuance of the letters, a petition for final distribution of the estate can be filed with the court, showing that all debts and taxes have been paid, all distributions have been made and the estate is ready to be closed down.
We at East Bay Probate and Trust Administration can guide you through the Probate process, help you understand what needs to be done and provide you with all the support you may need. Our team of attorneys, CPAs, inventory specialists, appraisers, real estate brokers and our private investigator, will help you manage this process with a minimum of disruption to your life. We understand that this is a challenging time for the survivors and we at East Bay Probate and Trust Administration do everything we can to make the process as smooth and painless as possible.