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Is Probate a Complicated Process?

Bochnewich March 27, 2023

In California, the probate procedure may be difficult, time-consuming, and expensive. The legal procedure known as “probate” serves to transfer a deceased person’s assets to their heirs or beneficiaries. A petition must be submitted to the court, creditors and beneficiaries must be notified, debts and taxes must be paid, and then the residual assets must be distributed.

The probate procedure in California may become more difficult due to a number of issues, including:

  • The estate’s size. The probate procedure may be more difficult if the estate is substantial and contains a wide range of assets, including real estate, investments, and business interests.

  • Conflicts among beneficiaries. The probate procedure may become more unpleasant and time-consuming if there are disagreements among beneficiaries on how to divide the estate’s assets.

  • Taxes and debt. The probate procedure might become more difficult if the departed individual has considerable debts or unpaid taxes that need to be resolved.

  • No estate plan. The probate procedure may be more difficult if the decedent has no will or other estate planning documents since the court must then decide how to divide assets in accordance with California’s intestacy laws.

Overall, the California probate procedure might be challenging, but dealing with an adept probate lawyer can make things easier and guarantee that everything is done properly. A probate lawyer can assist you through the procedure, identify and resolve any problems that crop up, and guarantee that the assets of your loved one are distributed in accordance with their desires.

How to Simplify the Probate Process in CA

In California, the probate procedure can be difficult and drawn out, but there are certain actions you can do to streamline it and speed it up. Here are a few pieces of advice:

  • Establish a thorough estate plan. By clearly stating your desires for the distribution of your assets, designating beneficiaries, and reducing the possibility of family conflicts, a well-crafted estate plan may significantly ease the probate procedure.

  • Establish joint ownership. Think about creating joint ownership of your possessions with a dependable relative or friend. By doing this, probate may be completely avoided for those particular assets.

  • Maintain accurate records. Keep thorough records of all your possessions and obligations, including account numbers, contact information, and other crucial information. This will make it easier for your executor or administrator to find and take care of your property while it is in probate.

  • Work with a knowledgeable probate attorney. A knowledgeable probate attorney can assist you through the procedure and find methods to make it easier and go more quickly. They may also take care of the paperwork, court appearances, and legal obligations on your behalf, easing the stress on you and your family.

By following these steps and consulting with a probate lawyer, you may assist in streamlining the probate procedure and making sure your loved ones receive their inheritance as fast and effectively as possible.


Q: What Is the Shortest Time for Probate?

A: The quickest probate process in California often takes six months or less. This is because the executor or administrator must hold off on distributing assets to beneficiaries until the end of the time period allowed by law for creditors to file claims against the estate. The ultimate distribution of assets also has to be approved by the court, which might take some time.

Q: How Much Does an Estate Have to Be Worth to Go to Probate?

A: In California, an estate must go through probate if the value of the assets that require probate exceeds $166,250. This amount is known as the “small estate limit” and includes assets that are held solely in the deceased person’s name, such as bank accounts, real estate, and vehicles. However, it’s important to note that certain assets are not included in the small estate limit and may still need to go through probate even if the total value of the estate is below $166,250.

Q: What Is the Longest Time Probate Can Take?

A: The size and complexity of the estate, the number of beneficiaries, and whether any disputes occur can all have a significant impact on how long it takes to complete probate in California. As a result, it is challenging to determine with precision how long probate can last. Probate in California can last several years, but the process is typically completed within a year.

Q: Are Bank Accounts Frozen During Probate?

A: The bank(s) will be informed of the account holder’s passing and given the relevant legal documents, such as the death certificate and letters testamentary, once the probate court has chosen an executor or administrator to handle the estate. After that, the bank can put the account on hold and limit access to the money until the executor or administrator has been given permission to handle the account. The executor or administrator, however, may ask the bank to release a part of the money to cover estate costs, such as burial costs or attorney fees. The leftover money can be dispersed to the beneficiaries in accordance with the terms of the will or California’s intestacy laws once all obligations and expenditures have been paid.

Q: Do I Need to Have a Lawyer Help Me with The Probate Process?

A: Although it is strongly advised, it is not legally required to retain a lawyer in California to help with the probate procedure. Many legal procedures and deadlines can make the probate process difficult and time-consuming, though, and even a minor error or oversight might result in considerable delays, costs, and legal issues among the beneficiaries. An adept probate attorney can assist you in navigating the probate legal requirements, identifying and resolving any problems that may emerge, and making sure everything is done correctly.

Safeguard Your Interests and Ensure a Bright Future

If you need a probate lawyer in California, don’t hesitate to take action. Contact our team at Bochnewich Law Offices, APC today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced probate attorneys. Our team is committed to providing you with personalized, compassionate legal guidance through every step of the probate process. Let us help you navigate the complex legal requirements and ensure your loved one’s wishes are carried out properly.