This is the sixth and final writing in a series regarding probate decedent’s estate court proceedings in California.
The writings so far have discussed that the ultimate goal of the process is transferring the assets of someone who died (a decedent) to the people who are supposed to receive them. The writings also discussed the first two major steps of a probate decedent’s estate court proceeding, which are getting someone in charge of the assets and paying all valid debts. The most recent writing covered the special issues involved when the decedent owned real estate.
This writing will discuss in more detail how the ultimate goal works of transferring the assets of the decedent (the estate) to the people who are supposed to receive them.
After any issues such as paying the valid debts and maybe selling assets are resolved, it is time to distribute the assets, and that also requires court approval. This approval is obtained by filing another petition with the court.
Through this petition the person in charge summarizes all of her efforts and demonstrates to the court that all tasks are complete. She requests that the court terminate the bond (if a bond was required, as discussed in the third writing). She also requests court approval to pay fees from the decedent’s assets to herself and her attorney. Both the person in charge and her attorney are entitled to a fee that is a percentage of the assets, plus hourly fees for any extraordinary services such as selling real estate. Finally, she asks the court to approve transferring legal ownership of the decedent’s assets to the people who are supposed to receive them (the beneficiaries).
Those beneficiaries are named in the will, if there is a will. Remember that a will does not avoid a probate decedent’s estate court proceeding.
If there is no will, then the assets will be distributed to the heirs of the decedent. The heirs are the closest living relatives of the decedent as defined by law.
The person in charge and her attorney prepare receipts and have each beneficiary sign a receipt when he or she receives the distribution from the decedent’s assets.
Then they file with the court all of the signed receipts and one more petition. That petition does not require a court hearing, and through it they request that the court discharge the person from being in charge of the probate decedent’s estate court proceeding. The court will do so after it sees that the receipts show that all of the assets have been distributed.
This concludes the six-part summary of the California probate decedent’s estate court proceeding process.