Probate Process

Probate Process (1)

Thursday, 26 November 2015 16:39

What is the Probate Process Anyway?

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Wills, Trusts, Probate, Estate Planning – What does it all mean?


What is the Probate Process Anyway?

The first step is to start the process.  If there is a Will, the Executor of the Will starts the process.  If there is no Will, then a family member comes to the court and asks to be named as the “Administrator”.

Next, the Will is filed along with a Petition for Probate.  This petition requires a filing fee of about $400.  The next step is to publish a Notice of Probate in an appropriate and approved newspaper.  The newspaper publishing charges vary.  The charge can be from around $100 to $400 or possibly more.  Certain situations that are more complex may also require additional petitions to be filed – for additional filing fees of course.

The court will then issue Letters Testamentary, or Letters of Administration and interested parties are notified after the Will (if there is one) is validated by the court.

Next, the Executor gathers all of the deceased person’s assets and debts, applies for a taxpayer ID for the Estate and opens a bank account. 

The Executor will gather, and file with the court, an inventory and appraisal of all of the decedent’s probate property.  A court appointed appraiser must be used and also charges a fee. The appraiser fees are generally 0.1% of the value of the assets appraised, so in our first example of a $650,000 estate, the appraisal fee would be around $650.

The Executor must take care of the probate property and protect against loss through insurance, payments of taxes, maintenance, tax returns, etc.

Creditors have four months to come forward with any claims.  After all bills are paid, the estate can be closed with court permission.  The assets can then be distributed.  If there is a Will, then assets will be distributed according to the Will, or if no Will, then through Intestate Succession.

The Executor is also entitled to charge the estate the same fees that the attorney is entitled to charge.  The Executor does not always do this, but they can if they choose. 

Keep in mind that with Probate:

  • It takes about a year to complete the process
  • Many steps or actions can require court approval
  • Nothing can be done with the decedent’s accounts for about four to six weeks after death (assuming there is no other means to access the accounts such as a joint account) which means that the family will often bear the burden of costs for funeral expenses, and other payments (fees, attorney, etc.) while waiting for the Probate to progress.

See lots of estate planning information on my website at:

Please call today, and we can start planning!

Dan Powell




Just like my website, nothing in this blog is intended as legal advice. If you need legal advice, contact an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. I am licensed to practice law in California.  Further, please remember that I speak in generalities in my blog (and on my website). There are so many different factors that can contribute and completely change the outcome that it would not be practical to discuss all of them here. This is why I speak in generalities. Thanks again for reading.


This document is for informational purposes only.  Nothing in this is to be considered legal advice.  Nothing in this shall create an attorney/client relationship, nor shall it create a confidential relationship.  If you need legal advice (in California), feel free to contact me or someone licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.  I assume no liability or responsibility for actions taken, or not taken, as a result of reading this information.

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