In California, an estate that is not worth more than $150,000 is eligible for a simplified probate process. This is a faster process that does not include a court hearing and gets assets to beneficiaries more efficiently.
The first step is to find out if the estate qualifies. This is done by adding up all the assets that are included in the will to be transferred to heirs and beneficiaries. The intestate succession law should be used to determine which assets are transferable if there is not a will.
It may be necessary for the executor, as named in the will, or a family member if there is none, to file a petition for summary probate and include documentation that shows that the will is valid and the value of the assets. During the waiting period, creditors may file claims. The estate then pays taxes and any outstanding bills and assets are distributed to beneficiaries. There will be a court hearing if there is a dispute.
A person who has been appointed executor of an estate or family members of a person who has died intestate might want to consult an attorney about the estate administration process, whether the estate must pass through probate, and what else is involved in the process. If the estate does have to go through probate, although it can be somewhat time-consuming, it is usually a fairly straightforward process as long as no one is challenging the will. An executor is responsible for protecting the assets and not mismanaging the estate. It is not necessary to have legal or financial expertise in this role, and an executor is permitted to consult professionals as needed.