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Probate Process

Probate Process in California

Probate is the court process of administering the estate of a deceased person who did not have a trust.

The “estate” is the legal term for all the deceased person’s assets while “administering” the estate relates to making a final distribution of those assets. The assets may be distributed according to the deceased person’s will or if they did not have a will, according to state law through the probate process.

The Process formally begins with the filing of a petition in Superior Court in the county where the decedent lived. The executor, also called an administrator or personal representative, is the person responsible for administering the probate of the deceased person, and as with any legal proceeding, there are many technical aspects to the process which include:

  • Notifying creditors and publishing legal notices.
  • Conducting and filing an inventory of the deceased’s assets.
  • Petitions may need to be filed and letters of administration (often referred to as “letters testamentary”) issued.
  • Paying bills, settling with creditors, and filing taxes.
  • Adhering to deadlines for all filings, notices, objections, and payments.
  • There may be separate procedures – or even lawsuits – required in contentious probate cases.
  • Real estate or other property may need to be sold to effect correct distribution of assets or to pay debts.
  • Other assets may need to be transferred from the decedent to the beneficiaries.
  • The rights of beneficiaries and of creditors must be balanced and respected.

The Executor can easily get overwhelmed with the many technical responsibilities and legal duties he or she must accomplish to successfully probate the estate. That’s where we come in; guiding the executor, doing the heavy lifting, and making things as easy as possible for the executor throughout this process. The bottom line is that we save our clients significant time, money, and stress.

Both the executor and the probate attorney are entitled to equal compensation under California Probate Code Section 10810. The formula for determining ordinary probate compensation is very straightforward.

The Compensation in a probate administration case is calculated as follows:

4% of the first $100,000 of the gross estate value, 

3% of the next $100,000 of the gross estate value,

2% of the next $800,000 of the gross estate value,

1% of the next $9,000,000 of the gross estate value,

½% percent of the next $15,000,000 of the gross estate value.

The court determines reasonable compensation for an estate valued at more than $25,000,000. Also, probate courts can – and typically do in more complicated cases – award additional compensation for extraordinary services performed during the course of probate administration.

EXAMPLE: The statutory compensation for probating a California estate with a gross value of $500,000 is calculated as follows: 4% of the estate’s first $100,000 (which equals $4,000), plus, 3% of the estate’s next $100,000 (which equals $3,000), plus 2% of the estate’s remaining value of $300,000 (which equals $6,000). The sum total is $13,000 which means both the attorney and either the executor or administrator are both entitled to $13,000 in compensation at the end of the probate administration. And if there were any extraordinary services performed.

Please call us today for a free consultation if you need assistance with or have any questions about a California probate matter.

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Ali Talai, Attorney at Law

Estate Planning, Business Planning, and Probate Attorney

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