If you lived in or owned property in California, your estate may be subject to its probate laws when you pass. Your estate representative is responsible for presenting your will to a judge so that a probate proceeding can begin. Generally speaking, the case is handled in the city or county where you resided at the time of your death.
What to do if the executor doesn’t have the will
It is possible that your estate representative is not the person who is in possession of your will. In such a scenario, whoever is in possession of it will be responsible for presenting it to a probate judge in a timely manner. The estate representative or a beneficiary to the estate may take legal action against this person if the will is not handed over in a reasonable amount of time.
Probate may take months or years to complete
One of the reasons that a probate case should be opened as quickly as possible is that it can take up to a year or more to complete. However, this depends on a number of factors such as the complexity of your estate or the clarity of your will.
Assets are typically distributed toward the end of the case
Typically, assets cannot be distributed to beneficiaries until creditor claims have been addressed, tax returns have been filed and your final bills have been paid. The estate representative will be responsible for taking an inventory of your assets and ensuring that they are distributed in accordance with your will. Generally, the inventory must be completed within days or weeks of a probate case being opened.
Probate may be a lengthy and confusing process for your surviving family members to navigate after you pass. However, adding a trust or beneficiary designations to your estate plan may allow most or all of your assets to be transferred without the need for it. An estate planning attorney may be able to help you create or amend a trust, beneficiary designation or other plan documents.