Probate is the process through which a deceased person’s estate is distributed according to the terms of their last will and testament, or according to state law if they had no will. The probate court process involves confirming the validity of the will, empowering the named executor or an alternate administrator, inventory and appraisal of the deceased person’s assets, the payment of any outstanding debts, and distribution of remaining property to beneficiaries and heirs.

The probate process exists to protect the legacy of the recently deceased, as well as the rights of designated beneficiaries and heirs to receive the gifts which they were intended to receive. If someone who has not created a will passes, California law specifies how their remaining assets are to be distributed.

In California, probate may not be required under certain circumstances. If the deceased person implemented probate avoidance strategies through comprehensive estate planning, the time and cost of the probate process should be unnecessary. And in the case of  an estate of $150,000 or less, it may be possible for family members to claim the assets by filing a small estate affidavit, or by utilizing a simplified small estate probate process.

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