Probate is a court-supervised process that authenticates your will (if you have one) and authorizes your Executor to distribute your final assets. The court also ensures that your last debts are paid, and that any remaining assets go to the proper heirs. While state laws vary, the probate process is generally similar nationwide.
How much does probate cost in California?
A good estate plan can help you avoid Probate explained, but even the best planning can’t eliminate it completely. Some inherited assets must go through the probate process, such as individual bank accounts, solely owned homes and cars, personal property that is not named in a will (clothing, furniture, art), cash and other general items.
The first step in the probate process is locating all of the deceased person’s assets, assessing their total value and paying any taxes owed. The next step is distributing the assets to the beneficiaries identified in the will or by the rules of intestacy (if there is no will). Finally, the executor must submit an accounting to the court. This document lists everything that was collected, paid and distributed, and is signed by the beneficiaries to verify that they received what they were supposed to.
Depending on the size of the estate, you may need to hire an attorney to handle the probate process. Typically, attorneys charge an hourly fee for their services or a flat fee based on the value of the estate. Often, the estate pays these fees directly from the assets.