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What Is Probate Administration?

– Sacramento Estate Planning Attorneys –

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Probate administration is the legal process involved with settling the estate of a deceased person.

During the probate proceedings, the California Superior Court, located in the county where the deceased individual lived at the time of their passing, oversees the management and distribution of assets that are part of the estate.

The court will establish if there is a testamentary will and its validity. In cases where no valid will is found, the court will distribute the estate’s assets in accordance with applicable law.

An executor or administrator will be named by either the court or as detailed in a will. As the personal representative for the estate, the executor or administrator has many responsibilities in the probate process.

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Experienced Probate Administration Guidance

When you are named as an executer or administrator of an estate you take on many responsibilities in the probate process. Working with an experienced attorney with probate litigation is the best way to navigate the process.

Explaining what your duties as the personal representative are and answering your questions is our priority. We provide you understanding of common matters that come with probate administration, including:

  • The responsibilities of an executor or administrator
  • Understanding the full probate court process
  • Resolving debt issues for the estate
  • Locating and proving a will
  • Contacting all heirs and beneficiaries
  • Navigating out-of-state probate issues
  • Properly completing all required probate documentation for accounting
  • Gathering and taking control of the estate’s assets
  • Assist in court appearances
Mother and daughter speaking to each other about naming an executer or administrator of an estate.

“At Abrate & Olsen Law Group, our Estate Planning Attorneys have our clients’ needs as a personal and professional priority. You and your family deserve the best in the business and that’s what we deliver.”

When I was named executor for my mother’s estate, I was surprised with the amount of responsibilities it included. Luckily Mike Abrate was able to explain the probate court works and simplify the process for me. Without Mike’s legal advice, my family and I would have been lost.– Chuck M., Sacramento, CA

What is the Probate Administration Process in Sacramento?

Our estate planning attorneys have helped guide clients just like you through the probate administration process. If you have been named the personal representative for an estate, contact our law office for a free consultation with our experienced probate administration lawyers.

Probate Administration in California will generally follow an eight-step process:

  1. Filing a Petition
  2. Distributing Notices of Probate
  3. Personal Representative Appointment
  4. Prove Validity of a Will (When a Will is present)
  5. Collection of Assets
  6. Payment of Debts
  7. Payment of Estate Taxes
  8. Conclusion of the Estate

1. Filing a Petition

To begin the process, a petition for probate must be filed with the California Superior Court in the county where the deceased lived when they passed. The petition will allow the court clerk to schedule the first hearing after a minimum of 30 days.

2. Distributing Notices of Probate

Once the petition has been filled with the appropriate court, a notice of hearing must be published a minimum of three (3) times in a local newspaper. Mailing of the notice to all individuals named in the will (when a will is present) and any legal heirs of the deceased is required.

3. Personal Representative Appointment

Prior to the court proceedings, the probate court will need to appoint someone to oversee the process. In cases where the person died with no will (intestate), the will does not name an executor, or the named executor is unable to perform the duties, the court will appoint an administrator to act as the personal representative. If a person would like to serve as the person representative in these situations, they can petition the court to be named as the administrator or “administrator with will annexed.”

4. Prove Validity of a Will

When the deceased created a will before their death, it must be proven to be valid unless it qualifies as a “self-proving” will. A self-proving will includes a self-proving clause declaring it was executed in accordance with California law and signed by witnesses under penalty of perjury. To prove a will a formal declaration must be signed by witness who were present when the will was signed.

5. Collection of Assets

One of the personal representative’s primary duties is taking possession of all the deceased’s assets that are subject to probate. There are various estate planning tools that allow assets to avoid probate. Should an asset require transfer to title to another person’s name, it is the personal representative’s duty to do so. Examples of assets that may require a title change include but are not limited to:

  • Bank and Credit Union Accounts
  • Brokerage Accounts
  • Mutual Funds
  • Physical Assets (i.e. real property and vehicles)
  • Stocks and Bonds

In most cases, the court will require an inventory of the property in the estate. Appraisal of certain types of property may also be required. These appraisal fees will be charged to the estate.

6. Payments of Debts

California law allows creditors up to four months from the time a personal representative is appointed to submit claims against the deceased’s estate. The personal representative is responsible for providing creditor’s notice of the death. Any claims that are deemed valid must be paid by the estate before any other distributions are made. Debts include but are not limited to outstanding bills, credit accounts and funeral expenses.

7. Payment of Estate Taxes

Estate taxes, including federal estate taxes and California state estate taxes, must be paid from the estate by the personal representative. Personal representatives are not generally held personally liable for estate taxes. However, if part or all of the estate has been distributed prior to the taxes being paid and there are insufficient assets left to cover the estate taxes, personal liability may be imposed.

8. Conclusion of the Estate

The final step in the California probate process is the conclusion or closing of the estate. A petition is filed with the court which summarizes the estate and all actions taken on behalf of the estate. With no objections and court approval of the accounting, an order is entered by the court concluding the estate. Following the order, the personal representative will distribute the remaining assets to the heirs or beneficiaries and pay any necessary fees.

Probate administration can be an emotional experience with many responsibilities. At the Abrate & Olsen Law Group, our estate planning attorneys have helped guide clients and their families through the Sacramento Probate process. Contact our office for a free consultation today

Probate Administration FAQ

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How long is the Probate Process in Sacramento?

The probate process will generally last a minimum of 7-8 months. This allows time to notify all legal heirs, beneficiaries, and creditors of the probate hearing. The length of the probate process can extend based on if a will is available and valid, someone contesting the validity of a will, and other factors.

What does a probate administration attorney cost?

The probate fees an attorney can charge are set by law in California. These statutory fees are based on a percentage of the gross value of the estate. Assets that do not pass through probate are not included as part of the gross estate. Contact Abrate & Olsen to discover a probate attorney’s fees.

Is Probate always required?

Probate is not always required for all assets in an estate. Estate planning tools, like trusts, can be established prior to a person’s death that will allow assets to avoid probate. Contact Abrate & Olsen to discover common ways that assets can avoid probate.

Our estate planning attorneys are here to help you every step of the way!

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