With assets worth at least $166,250, your will must pass through the probate court so your heirs may take legal ownership of your properties. The Judicial Council of California’s website notes that the individual who has custody of your will must submit it to the court within 30 days of your death.
Your executor receives a copy of your will, and the probate process begins by filing a court petition. A clerk then opens your case and schedules a hearing. The petitioner must notify your heirs and surviving relatives of the hearing date. Your estate’s executor, also known as your representative, publishes a notice of the hearing in a newspaper. Anyone may attend the hearing.
Who may raise issues at the court hearing?
Any interested party may contest your will or file a claim against your estate. As reported by U.S. News, the probate court verifies the validity of your will. California’s statutes recognize a will as valid when in writing, signed by its creator and also signed by two witnesses.
Forbes notes how creditors may file claims to recover unpaid balances from your estate. Preparing a list of creditors in advance for your representative may help settle your financial matters. Your executor may work with creditors and pay them with a judge’s approval.
When may my heirs take ownership of my assets?
After settling with your creditors, the court may begin distributing your assets. To help bring about a smooth transition, you could compile a list of your assets and properties for your representative to refer to. The court may supervise the process of retitling deeds to your intended beneficiaries.
Some assets may not require probate, such as properties owned jointly with your spouse. You could, for example, also name heirs as transfer-on-death beneficiaries on your financial accounts. Creating a trust may provide another option for avoiding probate.