Most California estates will go through a legal process in order to close them unless the deceased parties planned ahead to avoid this step. This legal process is known as probate, and it involves many actions in order to ensure that the decedent’s final affairs have been properly addressed. Commonly, a person will have appointed an executor in his or her will to handle these actions.
Of course, most people who are appointed as executors do not have extensive legal knowledge on how to go through probate. Before getting overwhelmed, individuals in this position may first want to focus on getting the process started. One of the first steps in closing an estate is to inventory the person’s assets and find all important documents, especially any relating to estate planning. The will may be needed to determine who was appointed as executor if the deceased did not discuss the appointment beforehand.
If the will did appoint an executor, the named individual will need to open the probate estate, which involves filing the correct paperwork. The executor and beneficiaries named in the will may have to sign the paperwork before filing it with the court. This step will allow for the probate case to officially open with the court.
While these steps may seem straightforward, each probate case differs. Therefore, individuals who have been named executors of California estates may want to make sure they understand the state laws that will influence their cases and understand the responsibilities they face. Fortunately, they do not have to act alone, and experienced attorneys can help them each step of the way, even before cases officially open.