Probate is a legal process that involves the distribution of a deceased person's assets to their heirs. In California, the probate process can be a lengthy and complex affair. The state law mandates that the personal representative should have completed probate within 1 year of being appointed executor, administrator, or personal representative of an estate. However, as a general rule of thumb, the probate process will take anywhere from 9-18 months, with some exceptions.
The probate process in California can be broken down into several stages. The first step is to file the petition for probate, which takes about 2-3 weeks. Once an original copy of the decedent's will has been located, Form DE-111 needs to be filed. This form will need to have the will attached (if available) as well as a death certificate. This step is essentially telling the court that a hearing is required to settle this matter. The next step is to publish the notice of hearing, which takes another 2-3 weeks. Once you have received an official hearing date from the court, you will need to file a notice in the local newspaper telling all interested parties of said hearing. This will need to be published a minimum of three times. Additionally, you will need to mail a copy of the hearing notice to any person named in the will, if the deceased did not die intestate (without a will).
The first probate hearing and bond posting takes another 2-3 weeks. At the first court meeting, it is decided who the Administrator/Executor of the will shall be if there was a will in place. You may suggest who you want the administrator to be, but in the case of the decedent dying intestate, the court will determine who shall be appointed to that position. Note that you may also be required to post a bond, which is a type of insurance to protect you (and the beneficiaries) in something were to go awry with the estate. This will likely be paid out of pocket and will need to be done before the administrator is granted the legal authority to handle the estate's assets.
Proving the will takes about 1-2 weeks. This step is usually quite quick. In many situations, the will would have been signed and witnessed correctly, so the validation process is a simple formality. If the will was handwritten or another type, this could take a bit longer. But, the process typically involves someone who knew the deceased swearing that this was their will.
The probate process can be an unnerving process, but there are ways to speed it up. You can check the progress of your case and hire an experienced attorney to help you navigate the process. If you're in Orange County, you can find more information on the Orange County Probate Court website https://www.occourts.org/.
In conclusion, the probate process in California can take anywhere from 9-18 months, with some exceptions. It is a complex process that involves several stages, including filing the petition for probate, publishing the notice of hearing, the first probate hearing and bond posting, and proving the will. If you're looking to speed up the process, you can check the progress of your case and hire an experienced attorney to help you navigate the process.
We've been assisting Californians for over 23 years in avoiding Probate and setting up an estate planning system to meet the needs of both physical, intangible and digital assets. The question you have to ask yourself if you don't have a plan is; "are you finding out what you need to know?" Living life aimlessly can be exciting until it leaves difficulty for our loved ones and that is where planning comes in to resolves that. If you want to find out about your estate and what you should be doing we invite you to contact our office at (949) 305-8642 or use our calendar to book an appointment for a more detailed conversation.