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California Probate, Will & Trust Lawyer > Blog > Probate > Rules on Probate in California You Need To Know About (for 2024)

Rules on Probate in California You Need To Know About (for 2024)

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After the passing of a loved one, navigating asset distribution can be daunting. States in the U.S. recognize this, and that is why they have established probate courts. These courts are meant to ensure the fair distribution of assets following someone’s death. Probate courts also ensure valid debts are paid, and estate planning documents are followed. In the U.S., probate laws dictate how a decedent’s estate will be distributed or transferred. Different states have different probate rules, meaning that the rules that apply in one state may not apply in another state. It is vital that if you recently lost a loved one, you understand the probate rules that apply in your state. In this article, we share some of the rules on probate in California.

#1: Threshold for Probate

California residents should know that not all estates need to go through probate. It is possible to avoid probate in California. In California, smaller estates can avoid going through probate. Currently, a deceased person’s estate is only required to go through probate if the estate property is worth over $166,250. If the total value of estate assets is $166,250 or less, the estate may qualify for a non-formal probate case. In such a case, personal property can be transferred by writing an affidavit. This form can be obtained from an attorney or a bank.

#2: Role of the Probate Court

Probate courts in California are tasked with overseeing the fair distribution of assets. While it is highly advisable that beneficiaries and heirs work with a probate lawyer, even when someone does not work with an attorney, they can trust that the probate court will work to ensure fairness. Probate courts in California are also required to ensure legitimate debts that the decedent left behind are paid and that the personal representative adheres to the Will (if available).

#3: Intestate Succession

While most people create Wills before their passing, some don’t. Some people die without a Will. When there is no Will, the state’s intestate succession laws determine how the decedent’s assets will be distributed. Intestate succession laws can also apply when all or certain assets have not been assigned to beneficiaries in a Will. Under California’s intestate succession laws, heirs of a decedent’s estate may include spouses, children, parents, and other blood relatives.

#4: Spousal Inheritance

Most people assume that spouses automatically inherit all of their deceased spouse’s assets and property. This is not always true. Such a scenario only arises when there are no other living relatives.

#5: Inheritance by Children

Under intestate succession, children are entitled to receive assets and property equally regardless of whether they are full or half-siblings. In the absence of a surviving spouse, children may inherit the whole estate.

#6: Escheatment

Sometimes, there are no apparent heirs or beneficiaries. In such a case, the estate assets and property are transferred to the state’s ownership. This is referred to as “escheatment.”

Contact The Probate Guy

If you recently lost a loved one and need help with the probate process, 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.

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