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Biddle Law Estate Planning Blog

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

What to Expect If Your Parent's Estate Goes to Probate

The loss of a parent can prove all-encompassing. When you are processing the loss of your mother or father it can be an extremely emotional time. While you are trying to move forward, the last thing you likely want to have to worry about is what is supposed to happen to their estate and you most definitely don’t want to have to deal with the probate process.

The point of the probate process, in which a court-appointed executor works to settle an estate, is to ensure that it is in fact valid. Though you want to move forward with your life, the probate process can often prove to be a weight holding you back from doing so. Not only can it prove quite expensive, but also it can last for a long time, even years.

Can I Avoid Probate?

If the executor of the estate is able to prove that your parent’s debts have been paid by their estate and that no significant ones are left, you may be able to avoid the probate process. It will be the decision of the court as to whether or not to settle the estate.

However, when a parent passes without a will (intestate) and/or their estate plan is interpretable, and/or if Medicaid or social services are involved, the court will most likely find that the probate process is necessary. If you have a clear and proper estate plan, it can help to avoid this aggravation.

The Probate Process

After someone passes, the widow/er, family lawyer, executor of the estate, or other individual is obligated to file the will with the probate court (along with a death certificate). Regardless of whether there is a will though, the probate process can still prove quite lengthy, often taking months to complete.

What Happens with the Probate Process?

Generally, the probate process transpires as follows:

  1. First, there is a hearing at which a judge decides if the will is valid. If there is no valid Will, the heirs of the estate receive a summons to attend the hearing, where they are permitted to voice any concerns pertaining to the estate.
  2. The next part of the process occurs when the judge appoints an executor – either someone predetermined in the will, a surviving spouse, or a legal heir. Those who are offered to be executors are not obligated to accept the position. To make the position official, the heirs and executor will sign the documents.
  3. After the positions have been set, the executor ensures that creditors are notified of the decedent’s death and they must then prepare that individual’s tax returns.
  4. Finally, once all of the debts have been paid, the estate’s executor will file the proper paperwork to begin the distribution of assets to the right recipients. If there is no will, the court decides the heirs.

Biddle Law Helps Those in California Who Are Dealing with Probate Issues

Once the probate process is complete and understood by the relevant parties, it can help to ease any tension, fears and uncertainty often associated with it. The relevant laws serve to protect the estate of everyone involved. Sometimes the most important thing that you can do is exercise patience – and call an experienced attorney.

At Biddle Law, we want to ensure that both the decedent and the heirs get what they deserve. We will fight to minimize the necessary time and money needed. Let us help you with any of your probate questions and needs. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact us today!


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Biddle Law is located in San Mateo and Belmont and services San Mateo County including San Carlos, Burlingame and Foster City.



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