After someone you love has passed away, it is a stressful time. Dealing with your grief and settling their affairs take time and effort, and drains you emotionally. If you are named as an executor, this stress increases exponentially, especially since many executors have no experience with the legal system or the probate courts. Knowing the key probate steps that you need to take can help you settle your loved one’s estate more simply and quickly. The following California probate checklist can help you determine the basic steps you need to take in order, whether on your own or with the help of an experienced California probate lawyer. Of course, this California probate checklist is by no means comprehensive. Every estate is unique, and complex estates may require additional steps or legal procedures.
Basic California Probate Checklist
- Note all beneficiaries of the will and inform them of their status.
- Prepare and file a formal Probate Petition with the California probate court.
- Publish a notice in local newspaper.
- Send Notice of Hearing to all possibly interested parties and prepare court documentation for the initial probate hearing.
- Attend the hearing on probate.
- File and get several certified copies of the letters authorizing you as the executor to act on behalf of the estate, as well as a copy of the Order of Probate.
- Notify all creditors of the passing of the debtor and give them at least four months to come forward with any claims against the estate.
- File a Statement of Death of Real Property Owner BOE 502-D form with the county assessor where any real estate is located for each real estate property.
- File an inventory and appraisal of all property in conjunction with the Probate Referee.
- File any required tax returns.
- Settle any claims against the estate.
- Once all claims are settled and the estate has been properly appraised, file a Petition for Final Distribution and Order with the probate court.
- Attend the hearing on your petition in probate court.
- If approved, distribute all assets in accordance with the approved petition and get signed receipts from each beneficiary.
- File all beneficiary receipts and the Ex Parte Discharge of Executor with the court.
After you have completed this checklist, your role as executor should be complete.
Of course, this California probate checklist is by no means comprehensive. Every estate is unique, and complex estates may require additional steps or legal procedures. If you are unsure of exactly how complex your probate process may be, an experienced California probate attorney like Michael D. Larsen can help you make an accurate assessment. We are always available to help get you started or support you throughout the entire California probate process.