How to Probate an Estate in California

Probating is a legal process to oversee the estate of a deceased person, and handling all claims under his or her will. Usually, the court allows an executor, named in the will, to carry out all the tasks like distributing the deceased person’s assets in the beneficiaries and paying any liabilities to the creditors. The executor has the legal backing to settle all estate and asset claims as mentioned in the will. However, he or she will have to prove first that the will is indeed valid before distributing the property according to the laws defined by the state.


  • 1

    Get the original copy of the will upon the death of the testator, along with the death certificate. You will then need to categorize the deceased’s property and other assets, and will further need to list any debts that need paying.

  • 2

    You will need to approach the representative named in the will as the executor. One will need to file a petition with the court to identify him or herself even though the will clearly mentions the executor. The executor will then take upon him or herself to initiate the probate process.

  • 3

    The California Superior Court will provide the executor with the probate forms. You will need to enter relevant details about the deceased, the beneficiaries and the estate under consideration. You will be further required to publish the notice in the local newspaper and contact the deceased’s relatives or those named in the will about the probate process.

    Make sure that you ask someone who is above 18 years of age to do this for you as state laws in California do not permit the executor to contact the deceased’s heirs.

  • 4

    The court will then set a hearing date, when the process will get started officially. If everything goes smoothly, the court will direct the executor to carry out all administrative activities specified in the deceased’s will. Over the course of the next 12 months, the executor will need to exhaust the testator’s real estate according to his/her wishes, and further inform the creditors, and pay them the outstanding amount.

    In case the court denies the petition, you can challenge it at another hearing.

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