The probate process becomes more complicated when there is no will. If the deceased individual died without a will, or “intestate,” then the decedent’s estate is distributed to his heirs according to California’s laws governing intestate succession. In general, however, the probate process involves filing a petition for probate with the court. Then there will be a hearing and you must give notice to creditors. Next, you will pay outstanding debts and taxes. Finally, you will file a final petition for distribution. If all goes smoothly, you will receive approval for distribution after a final hearing. This process could take anywhere from six months to over a year. Additionally, if any of the beneficiaries disputes the will or any estate documents, then probate might take considerably longer. Probate is a necessary part of settling many estates and involves proving that a will is valid. Depending on the size and nature of the estate, probate can take a long time. It can also be expensive, making probate undesirable for a lot of clients.

Probate Steps

In California, probate is a court-supervised process that includes:
(1) Filing a petition for probate with the court
(2) Submitting the final original will, if available, to the court
(3) The court appoints an executor, or administrator (if there is no will).
(4) An inventory of the assets is prepared and filed with the court.
(5) Final expenses (funeral, medical bills) are paid.
(6) The provisions of the will, if there is one, are fulfilled and the estate is distributed to the beneficiaries.