At Blacksburg Law, we understand that dealing with legal matters is the last thing you want to consider during such a difficult time. Our role is to lift the weight of legal proceedings off your shoulders, guiding you through the California probate process with empathy and efficiency.

What is Probate, and When is it Necessary?

Probate is a court-supervised procedure through which a deceased person’s estate is administered and their assets are distributed to heirs and beneficiaries. In California, probate is typically necessary when a person passes away owning assets in their name alone without a beneficiary designation. Probate can be complex and varies from case to case.

When assets have been transferred to a trust or they are set up to pass directly to a co-owner or beneficiary, then they do not need to be “probated” in order to be managed or distributed. Many people establish estate plans designed to avoid probate, so all of their assets are set up to pass through a trust or other means. When someone has not taken steps to prepare, chances are that at least some of their property will need to go through probate. 

If the value of an estate is below the current statutory threshold, it may be possible to manage the estate through a less burdensome process, but California law requires formal probate in many cases. At Blacksburg Law, we can help you determine if formal probate is needed and how to handle assets that may be in trusts or set up to pass through other means.

Steps in the Probate Process

The probate process involves several key steps. To begin, the will must file the original document with the probate court clerk within 30 days after the death. If there is no will, the person who wants to administer the estate (a family member, usually) must petition the court for approval to act.

California law requires certain steps to be taken for someone to gain authority to manage the estate and to assess the validity of the will. This includes providing proper notice to beneficiaries and potential heirs. The court then holds a hearing to formally appoint an administrator. Once these preliminary legal steps are complete, then the process of estate administration can begin.

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    The administrator, also called an executor or personal representative, will need to prepare an inventory and appraisal of assets and contact a probate referee to establish a value for nonmonetary assets. Then the administrator will need to provide legally appropriate notice to potential creditors, pay debts, manage and sell assets as necessary, file tax returns, and distribute remaining assets in accordance with the will or the laws of intestate succession. The process usually takes at least nine months to 18 months to complete.

    We can assist in this process right from the start, addressing the court to gain authority for you to act and then guiding you through administration step by step in compliance with all requirements. Our experienced team can help notify heirs, identify and inventory assets, settle debts and taxes, and distribute assets. We can either manage tasks on your behalf or provide the information you need to perform on your own with confidence.

    Creating a Smooth Transition

    We know that every estate and family situation is unique. We aim to ensure the transfer of your loved one’s assets occurs without unnecessary delay or stress. From the initial filing to the final distribution of assets, Blacksburg Law works with you closely, ensuring that the final wishes are honored and that beneficiaries receive their due inheritance.

    We take pride in our role as counselors and advisors, and are always ready to answer your questions. Our aim is to provide peace of mind knowing everything is taken care of according to the letter of the law.

    Planning to Avoid Probate

    Many of our clients prefer to avoid probate altogether, and we can help with that, too. Through careful estate planning, including the use of living trusts, we can help you arrange your affairs to bypass the need for probate, saving your heirs time and expense in the future.

    We work with you to create a tailored plan that reflects your wishes and provides a clear, secure passage for your assets when the time comes. With the right planning, you can avoid the probate process, conserve assets, and give your family the gift of a smoother transition during a loss.

    Estate Planning Basics


    Download our Estate Planning Basics PDF Guide to get more information about what estate planning is, how it works, what you need to consider, and why Blacksburg Law is the right partner for you.

    Your Partner in Probate and Beyond

    At Blacksburg Law, we are your partners in navigating the California probate process and planning for the future. We offer expert legal counsel, compassionate support, and a commitment to making the probate process as stress-free as possible. contact us online or call 415.985.7027.

    Contact us today to get started.

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