If an individual dies, owning assets in his/her name, the estate must be probated. Probate is a court supervised process of validating the will; appointing an executor; locating, protecting, and valuing the decedent’s assets; paying final bills and applicable taxes; and, upon proving to the court that these things have been done, distributing assets to beneficiaries.
The San Diego, California Probate Process
- The Executor (or “Administrator,” if there is no will) is appointed by the probate court, granting him the authority to take all actions necessary to settle the estate.
- The Executor must locate, protect, and value all of the decedent’s assets.
- The Executor must locate creditors and notify them of the death.
- Known creditors must receive actual notice
- Unknown creditors must receive notice by publishing a notice in a local newspaper
- The Executor must pay all final bills of the decedent and the estate.
- The Executor must have the decedent’s final income tax return prepared, as well as the California inheritance tax return and the federal estate tax return, if the estates are large enough to be subject to tax. If the estate sells assets or earns income before distribution to the beneficiaries, an estate income tax return must be filed as well.
- Once the court is satisfied that everything has been done correctly, the Executor must distribute the assets to the estate’s beneficiaries.
Where to Get Help with the San Diego, California Probate Process
If you need help probating an estate or if you’ve been named as the Executor of an estate, consult with a qualified estate planning attorney. Please feel free to contact our office at 858-792-5988 for any estate in California.