Probate Administration

Probate is the legal process of transferring a decedent’s estate (title) to the rightful heirs of the estate. The probate process involves (1) collecting and identifying the deceased person’s property, (2) paying any debts and taxes, and (3) identifying the proper heirs and distributing the estate property to them. While the court oversees this process, in most cases the work is done by the executor of the decedent’s estate with the help of an attorney. We have administered probate cases in California for 20 years. While we believe in avoiding the formal probate process through a properly funded living trust, there are advantages to probate:

  1. If there are creditors’ claims against the estate, it may be beneficial to have probate court supervision so that the validity and amount of the claims can be determined;
  2. Probate also bars creditors’ claims if they are not asserted during the “creditors’ claims period” (generally four months after the executor is appointed);
  3. Probate provides court supervision which ensures that the decedent’s property will be accounted for and distributed in accordance with the decedent’s intent.
  4. If family members or the beneficiaries have difficulty in getting along, probate supervision may be beneficial.