How to Close a Probate Estate in California
The California probate process involves many steps, with the last stage being closing the probate estate. As the administration of an estate nears completion, it is vital that the personal representative understands how to close the probate estate. There are several steps that a personal representative must complete in order to properly close an estate. Below is a brief look at the steps of closing a probate estate in California.
Filing a Final Account and Petition for Distribution
If there are enough funds to pay all taxes and debts, the time for filing creditors’ claims has passed, and the decedent’s estate can be closed, you can file a final account and petition for distribution. You must file the petition within a year of getting Letters of Administration or a year and a half if you are required to file a federal tax return. If, for whatever reason, the decedent’s estate cannot be closed within this deadline, you should file a report on the status of the estate. The following are the things you must include in the status report;
- The estate’s condition
- Reasons why you can’t close the estate and distribute assets to heirs and beneficiaries
- The estimated time required to close the estate
In regards to preparing a petition for final distribution, the following are the things that must be included in this petition;
- An accounting (unless persons entitled to assets have signed waivers)
- A report of administration
- A petition requesting the court to approve the accounting (if you have filed it), approve the distribution of assets, and any other matter, such as allowing you or your attorney to receive fees.
Once all documents are filed, the date for the final probate hearing will be set.
Judgment of Final Distribution
You are also required to file a Judgment of Final Distribution. This should be done at least ten days before the final probate hearing. In this judgment, you must specify the beneficiaries and heirs to receive property and the percentage or specific interest in each item.
Giving Notice of the Hearing
After the date for the final probate hearing is set, you must properly notify all interested parties of the hearing. During the final hearing, a decision will be made on whether you can proceed with distributing inheritances to beneficiaries and heirs. If the court approves the distribution of estate assets, you will then proceed to distribute assets to beneficiaries and heirs.
After you distribute assets to beneficiaries and heirs, you need to acquire receipts from everyone who receives property. Then you need to file the receipts with the court before filing a petition for final discharge.
Finally, the court will make an order discharging you from all liability incurred after that. Once that is done, you should notify the IRS and the Franchise Tax Board that you are no longer the personal representative of the estate.
Contact The Probate Guy for Legal Help
If you need help with the probate process or closing a probate estate, contact the dedicated California probate attorney, Robert L. Cohen – The Probate Guy – today to schedule a telephonic consultation.
Southern California Probate Lawyer Serving Orange, Riverside, Anaheim, Whittier & Beyond.