An 850 petition, which is commonly known as a Heggstad petition is used to convey or transfer property which may have belonged to the decedent. 850 petitions are generally used when a decedent fails to properly transfer title of assets to the revocable trust. If assets, such as real property and banker investment accounts, are held in the decedent’s name at the time of their death and they should have been held in decedent’s trusts, then these assets must pass through a formal probate administration unless the trustee can file an 850 petition.
The 850 petition requests the court to order all assets held in decedent’s name to be transferred to the trustee and thus avoid a formal, lengthy and costly probate administration. The court will generally grant the request if the petitioner can demonstrate the decedent’s clear intent to transfer those assets to their trust and explain why they were not transferred during the decedent’s lifetime.
What Happens During The Probate Administration Process In California?
The probate administration process in California can be broken into three broad stages. The first stage of probate is the initiation. During this stage, a petition for probate is filed with the court. The petition seeks to validate the decedent’s will, to appoint a personal representative to manage the probate and to provide notice to all known and potentially unknown beneficiaries, heirs and other interested parties. The first stage concludes when the court issues an order for probate and grants letters testamentary or letters of administration to the personal representative. The personal representative may also be known as an executor, executrix or administrator.
The second stage of probate is the actual administration. This is where the bulk of the work gets done. During this stage, the personal representative has the authority to act on behalf of the decedent’s estate. They have an obligation to discover, appraise and protect all assets to ensure all the decedent’s legitimate debts are paid and to sell, dispose and/or manage estate assets where appropriate. If the estate is subject to estate or income taxes, the personal representative must file the appropriate return and pay all tax liabilities. The second stage lasts for at least four months to give creditors time to present any claims.
The third and final stage of probate is the closing and final distribution. Once the four month creditor period has lapsed and the administrator has performed all necessary actions, they may petition the court for final distribution. The administrator will provide either an informal report or a formal accounting of all actions they took during the administration and all moneys that entered and exited the estate. Further, the petition requests the court to approve the final distribution of all assets to the beneficiaries, heirs or creditors and it requests the personal representative be discharged of any future liability.
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