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Answers To Questions About California Probate

After a loved one dies it can be difficult to find the energy and mental capacity needed to get everything done correctly and within deadlines. William H. Sauls, Attorney At Law, is here to help. Below are some answers to our most frequently asked questions. For more specific questions and answers, contact the firm and set up a consultation with attorney William Sauls.

How long does probate take in California?

The timeline varies on the specifics and complexity of the estate. Simple estates have been probated in as few as four months. Most estates take about nine months. Some estates, due to their complexity, require longer, as much as 18 months or more. An experienced California probate attorney can readily assess your situation and advise you on the timeline and process.

How can I avoid the probate process?

Careful and purposeful planning is an effective way to avoid the delay and cost of California probate. If the person who died is married, chances are most assets will transfer to that spouse, and no probate will be required. If the estate is valued under $166,250 (in 2020), it will not require probate. (Each state has a different probate value threshold). If the decedent (person who died) worked with an estate planning attorney and had a will with a named executor, and if they set up beneficiaries and payable and transfer on death directives and had a living trust, the estate and assets can likely be distributed without probate getting involved.

How long do creditors have to collect debts after someone dies?

It is the job of the executor (if one is named in the will) or the personal representative/administrator (appointed by the court) to pay and collect all debts on the decedent’s behalf. If there was a Notice to Creditors published and sent to all known creditors, then the time required is 120 days.

Any creditor who doesn’t by that time file a Statement of Claim will forfeit their right to collect.

Why is there a probate process?

Probate is the process by which the court handles the administration of a decedent’s estate. It serves to ensure that a will is valid (confirmed by a probate judge) and that property is accurately assessed, valued and distributed per the will or per that state’s succession laws. Probate also ensures that all debts are paid. The court relies on witnesses to verify that a will is authentic.

Who will the court appoint as administrator if no one is named in the will?

Typically the court will appoint the next of kin. This is usually the surviving spouse or an adult child of the decedent. If a person is appointed and cannot fulfill the duties because they are unable or unwilling, they are not obligated to. The court will simply appoint someone else to serve as the administrator.

The Answers You Need Are Within Reach

If you have more questions or seek personal attention and guidance to an estate planning or probate matter, attorney William Sauls can help. Call 619-239-8096 to set up an appointment. You can also email attorney Sauls at the firm, and he will be in touch with you.