Probate

Probate Administration, in any form, is required when someone dies (the “decedent”) owning an asset that is titled in their name alone, and that asset does not have a beneficiary designation. A formal Probate is the administration of a decedent’s estate under the auspices of the Probate Court.

  • Did a loved one die with or without a Will?
  • Did they die owing assets titled in their name alone?
  • Did these assets lack a beneficiary designation?
  • Does the deceased estate have creditors?

If you answered Yes to any of these questions, the decedent’s estate is required to be administered through a Probate Procedure.

Because of the complexity of the Probate process it is vitally important for the responsible party (Executor/Administrator) and their attorney to be familiar with local hearing practices and have experience and knowledge with Probate Laws.

Probate Administrations are complex, convoluted, and frustrating – even the “simple” ones.

Copenbarger & Copenbarger LLP can and will help you thru the Probate process.

Probate Administration

Probate Administration, in any form, is required when someone dies (the “decedent”) owning an asset that is titled in their name alone, and that asset does not have a beneficiary designation.  A Probate is the administration of a decedent’s estate under the auspices of the Probate Court. There are several processes that are governed by the California Probate Code.  Those processes are, in no particular order, as follows:

First, a formal administration, is one with Probate Court oversight under the full auspices of the Probate Code.

These are typically estates where:

  • The decedent’s assets have a gross aggregate value equal to or greater than the statutory value threshold ($166,500.00 in 2020);
  • The decedent had creditors (liabilities);
  • Conflicting family interests; or
  • There is a combination of the above.

Second, non-probate transfers that are conducted without the full auspices of the Probate Court, called, “Summary Administrations”

These are typically estates where:

  • The decedent’s assets have a gross aggregate value that is less than the statutory value threshold ($166,500.00 in 2020); and
  • The decedent did not have creditors.

Third, informal procedures that may not require any Probate Court involvement or Summary Administration.  This method for transferring property without a full Probate applies only to a surviving spouse, registered domestic partner, and perhaps minor child or other dependents; and

Fourth, issues of compliance and liability.  The decedent’s representative must comply with the state’s rules, regulations, and fiduciary duties.  They must act appropriately and carry out their responsibilities so that they do not expose themselves to liability from the decedent’s creditors, government agencies, and the beneficiaries of the decedent’s estate.

The laws that oversee and govern the estates of a decedent are contained in the “California Probate Code”, the “California Rules of Court” and the “California Counties Local Rules” and “Policies of the Court”.

The Probate Code is very specific, requiring adherence to set timelines, hearings and notices which most often result in a lengthy and expensive court process.

The main two main functions of a probate administration are the settling of the decedent’s estate, and the process of transferring the decedent’s assets to the persons or institutions entitled to receive them.   The major steps include:

  1. Collection of assets: this is a systematic process to collect the decedent’s real and personal property, as well as identifying their debts.
  2. Payment of debts and taxes: Requiring creditors to present valid claims within a specific time so that valid debts are properly determined. Probate also provides methods for determining state and federal taxes due at the time of death.
  3. Distribution of the Decedent’s property; to provide the means for determining who is entitled to the property and to ensure the transfer of property is completed.

Because of the complexity of the Probate process it is vitally important for the Petitioner and their attorney to be familiar with local hearing practices.

Probate Administrations are complex, convoluted, and frustrating – even the “simple” ones.  Due to the nature of the Probate Administration and the potential liability of the decedent’s representative, one should always consult a competent attorney, and most Probate Administrations will require the representation of competent attorneys. Copenbarger & Copenbarger LLP have processed thousands of Probate Administrations and we are here to help you, counsel you, and guide you through this process and procedure.

Why Copenbarger & Copenbarger LLP?

The process of making sure you have the legal protections in place. To make sure you your family, and your financial resources are properly protected. This requires you to help the attorney determine what are the most important areas of your life to secure. It involves asking the what if questions of life. What if I become disabled, what if I did, what if my spouse becomes disabled, what if they die, what if my children are unable to take care of themselves when I become disabled or die.