Where Is Probate Filed?

In California, it is filed at the probate court in the county where the person lived at the time of their death.

Who Moderates and Handles the Probate Process?

If the person had a will, a person is usually designated as the Executor of the will, and that person would ultimately be responsible for administrating the estate. If there was no will, then the court would have to appoint somebody to be the administrator. The person can either be an executor under the will, or the administrator if there was no will, but both terms, executor and administrator, are known as personal representatives.

The personal representative does the actual work of administering the estate under the supervision of the court system, which usually means they have to post a bond for the protection of the beneficiaries, submit detailed accountings to the court, and meet certain deadlines so the court can make sure that everything is being done correctly.

What happens if the deceased had property in several states?

One of the reasons probate is very often a big headache is because if somebody owned property in several different states, then a probate case would have to be opened up in each of those states. The main one would be opened in the county of the residence of the decedent, but then every other state would also have to be contacted and the personal representative or the executor who was appointed would have to go to each state where the property was held and open up an “Ancillary Probate.”

Very often there will be a main probate going on in California, but then there would be ancillary cases in Nevada, New York, or whichever state the person owned property in.

How Long Does This Whole Process Take?

The minimum time would be 6 months if the person went to probate court right away, although no one ever really gets into probate court right away. From the time the person dies and the heirs get over their initial grieving period and start to look into the legal aspects of the case, it has usually been a month or two before they even start or get in to see a lawyer. The probate petition would then have to be drafted which usually takes a couple of weeks.

All the necessary facts such as the names and addresses of the heirs and creditors of the estate, and related things like that need to be gathered. After the petition is filed with the court, the court then sets a hearing date which is usually about 45 to 60 days out from when it was filed. Notices have to be sent out in the interim before the hearing, so usually the first legal hearing would be about 60 to 90 days after the person passed away.

There is then the 4 month statutory period to wait out any creditors’ claims, so 4 months would have to go by after the person had been appointed as the personal representative. Theoretically, if there is no contest after that 4 month period goes by and if there are no other issues, the creditors can be paid, the state Franchise Tax Board is notified, and a petition to close the probate may be filed.

I say theoretically because I have never seen it done that quickly. It is for this reason that I do not like to raise people’s expectations, and I tell them that the probate will probably take a year or so and that is the minimum. The average probate throughout California lasts 18 months and there is no maximum. They are still probating Howard Hughes’s estate and he died 30 years ago, so it can drag on for a long, long time.

For more information on Ancillary Probate, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (949) 660-0007 today.

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