If an estate is not probated and your personal representative and your heirs did not properly try to notify your creditors, then the people who benefitted from your estate can become personally responsible for paying the debt.

Is California Probate Helpful For Someone Who Is Afraid That Their Wishes Won’t Be Carried Out Upon Death?

A California probate can be helpful if you are worried that your wishes will be ignored upon your death. The following are several ways in which the probate administration process helps protect a decedent’s wishes: (1) the probate court provides oversight for all actions taken during an administration; (2) the court determines if any will presented to the court is valid; (3) if the court or the heirs have concerns about the financial responsibility of the personal representative, then the court may require a bond to protect the estate assets; (4) any person interested in an estate can require notification of all actions; (5) beneficiaries must consent to certain actions taken by the personal representative; and (6) the assets of the estate cannot be distributed without the court’s final approval.

If I Name My Estate As Beneficiary Of My Retirement Funds And Life Insurance In California, Will The Assets Typically Go Through Probate? How Can I Avoid This?

If you name your estate as a beneficiary on your retirement funds and life insurance, the assets must go through probate. Rather than naming your estate, designate a specific person such as your spouse, children, or other family, friends, or an entity such as a charity or, in some situations, a trust. However, it is best to speak with your estate planning attorney before naming your trust as a beneficiary, especially as a beneficiary of any retirement funds.

Does California Have A Transfer On Death Deed? Will It Help To Avoid Probate?\

California permits Transfer on Death Deeds. If the person named in the deed is alive at the time of the decedent’s death, then the deed allows the real property to transfer to the person outside of probate. However, if the person predeceases the decedent, the deed fails, and probate may be required. This is an important reason why Transfer on Death Deeds should not generally be relied on as an estate planning tool.  Also, the transfer on death deed is only available for real property and does not offer a comprehensive solution to all estate assets or estate concerns like incapacity and/or planning for young beneficiaries.

Does The Benefit Of Having A Living Trust Outweigh The Cost Of Creating It To Avoid California Probate?

The benefits of having a living trust outweigh the costs of creating it. A living trust and comprehensive estate plan helps your beneficiaries stay out of court and out of conflict. A living trust allows you to accurately and specifically state your wishes for distribution, to choose agents whom you trust and to avoid any need for probate administration and/ or a conservatorship. Though creating the living trust is an upfront cost to you, the cost of probate administration or a conservatorship is often five or ten times more expensive.

What Happens If We Cannot Find A Will In California?

If no will is found when a person passes away and the decedent’s family and friends have conducted a thorough search, the decedent is considered to have died intestate. This means the probate court’s intestate laws determine who will receive the estate assets. Further, the personal representative will be appointed based on Probate Code rules. This person may or may not be the same person the decedent would have chosen if they had created a will.

If I am A Beneficiary And The Estate Does Not Have Enough Money, Do I Have To Pay Creditors Out Of My Own Pocket?

Beneficiaries and heirs of an estate are not personally responsible for paying a decedent’s debts or estate expenses if an administration has been appropriately carried out. These debts are paid from the available estate assets, and if there are insufficient assets to pay off debts and expenses, not all creditors will be paid in full.

Am I Responsible For Paying Off The Rest Of My Deceased Spouse’s Bills?

You are responsible for your deceased spouse’s bills to the extent there is community property available to pay the debts and separate property belonging to your deceased spouse. California is a community property state which means the assets you acquire during a marriage are considered community property unless an exception applies, such as assets acquired prior to marriage or received by inheritance or gift. If you own separate property, then it is not subject to your deceased spouse’s debts.

As An Heir, How Do I Stay Informed As To What Is Happening In The Probate Case?

The probate code requires a personal representative to notify all heirs and beneficiaries whenever specific actions are taken. Additionally, any interested person can file a request with the probate court to receive special notice. When a request for special notice is filed the personal representative must provide you notice of all petitions filed in an administrative proceeding, original and supplemental inventory and appraisals of estate property, objections to an appraisal, accounts of the personal representative, and reports on the status of administration. Last, the court maintains a register of action which lists all documents filed with the court and the hearing dates, both upcoming and past. The public may view any document filed with the court, either in person or online if the county offers online services.

For more information on Creditors In California Probate Process, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (415) 484-0078 today.

Kelsey Quaranto

Call For A Free Consultation (415) 484-0078