What it means to probate an estate – Part 2

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(From CALDA, California Association of Legal Document Assistants) Property that passes outright to a surviving spouse or registered domestic partner

The probate code states that no administration is necessary for assets that pass outright to a surviving spouse or registered domestic partner. Nevertheless, title companies, stock transfer agents and other entities and/or persons who have control over certain assets usually require some type of official document showing that the surviving spouse or partner is entitled to the property. In this case a form petition may be filed to obtain a court order confirming that the property belongs to the surviving spouse or partner and that no administration is necessary. There is no waiting period and no limit on the value of the property that can be transferred.

Formal probate court proceeding

Usually a formal probate court proceeding is required if the estate has probate assets over $150,000 in value. Probate property passes to the beneficiaries named in the decedent’s will or, if there is no will, to the decedent’s heirs under California’s laws of intestate succession. A personal representative is appointed to see that the proper steps are taken, called the “executor” or “administrator.” The will usually states the decedent’s choice for executor. If there is no will an administrator is appointed in order of priority starting with the surviving spouse, then children, etc.

A formal probate court proceeding takes a minimum of seven months to complete, and often takes a year or more. Creditors are given four months within this period to file their claims against the estate. All the forms except the last petition are pre- printed court forms with blank spaces to insert the required information. The only form which must be fully typed from beginning to end is the petition to close the estate which must be typed on legal numbered “pleading paper.”

What about taxes?

The executor, administrator or survivors of a decedent are responsible for the filing of the decedent’s final returns. They are also responsible for paying any taxes due before the estate is settled and the assets distributed.

Charlotte L. Ruse is a Kern County registered and bonded Legal Document Assistant (LDA), serving Kern County for 12 years by providing affordable self-help legal document preparation and Notary Public services. Kern County LDA #95 EXP. 10-1-17. I am not an attorney. I can only provide self-help services at your specific direction.


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