Though probate isn’t always necessary, in some cases it’s unavoidable. Much of the action will happen before the first court hearing, including a great deal of paperwork. Once all the proper forms have been filed and approved by the Court Clerk, the probate proceedings begin with an initial probate hearing.
The will is introduced
During the first hearing, the court takes testimony from the proposed administrator. The testimony will provide the court with further insight on the petition the representative filed to initiate probate. The court will want to verify the identity of the deceased, the relationship of the deceased to the administrator, and the reasons for putting the estate through probate.
Objections are filed
In California, the deceased’s heirs, creditors, and beneficiaries are permitted to contest a will on several grounds. If the will was the product of fraud or if it doesn’t meet legal standards, beneficiaries can file objections. If the deceased was tricked or pressured into decisions about his estates, the will can be made void. If the deceased was not mentally competent when she created the will, the will is invalid. In any of these cases, the interested party may file an objection during the initial court hearing.
The court names an administrator
Upon reaching a decision to permit the probate, the court will formally appoint the executor and issue Letters Testamentary, which authorize the executor to take control of the estate.
A bond is posted to protect the estate
If the executor lives out-of-state or if she isn’t the person named in the will, the court will require a bond to protect the estate from losses. In the case of large estates, a bond may also be required. In some cases, the will specifically asserts that a bond is not required while in other cases, it’s left up to the judge to decide. However, if the beneficiaries agree a bond is unnecessary, the judge is unlikely to order one. Bonds can be paid from the estate assets.
The court issues orders
If supplemental information is required to continue the proceedings or if objections have been filed, the judge may set a future court date to continue the proceedings. He may also issue orders that the parties seek mediation to come to an agreement about their differences. If all of the paperwork is in order and there are no objections, the judge will issue the Order for Probate, which starts the probate timeline.
If you’re the executor of an estate that feels like more than you can handle, schedule a consultation with the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lohman today.
Attorney Jeffrey Lohman is admitted to practice law in Arizona, not CA. For a list of attorneys licensed in California, please visit our team page.