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Probate Decedent’s Estate – 1 of 6 (Introduction)

Torrance Probate and Estate Planning Attorney

Probate Decedent’s Estate – 1 of 6 (Introduction)

This is the first in a series of six writings about probate decedent’s estate court proceedings in California. This writing will discuss the goals of a probate decedent’s estate court proceeding. Five writings will follow that will discuss probate decedent’s estate court proceedings in more detail.

If someone dies, his or her assets do not transfer by a trust or through an automatic transfer, and the value of those assets is too much to be a “small estate”, then a probate decedent’s estate court proceeding probably will be necessary to transfer the assets to the people who are supposed to receive them. Having a will alone does not avoid a probate decedent’s estate court proceeding.

Normally the main goal of handling (or administering) the assets of someone who has died (or a decedent) is ultimately to transfer those assets to the people who are supposed to receive them. That is the last of the three major steps in a probate decedent’s estate court proceeding.

First, someone needs to become able to control those assets and financial affairs. Second, that person needs to pay the valid debts of the decedent. Third, legal ownership of all of the decedent’s assets (or the estate) needs to be transferred to others.

A probate decedent’s estate court proceeding normally requires going to court at least twice, if not four or more times. In addition to the court hearings, the court ordinarily will not put a person in charge of a probate decedent’s estate court proceeding unless that person obtains a bond and files it with the court. Bond companies normally require the person in charge to be represented by an attorney.

That person also must file with the court a detailed inventory of all of the decedent’s assets. The person in charge also needs to make sure that all creditors of the decedent are paid. There is a detailed formal written process for doing this.

The entire process normally lasts a year or longer.

The next writings will discuss in more detail the three major steps of a probate decedent’s estate court proceeding. They will also cover the special issues involved when the decedent owned real estate.

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