Man signing documentThis is the third post in my series on the handling of intestate estates in San Bernardino, California. My last article explained what happens when one dies without a will. It is important to understand the ramifications of one’s passing, without a last will and testament, as many are confused as to what would happen next. In this article I will address another important topic – the process of handling such a case. If a loved one has passed without a will then it is suggested that you contact an attorney for assistance with the process.

The first step in a California probate, with no will, is to determine who is the administrator

California estates must go through probate if they have at least $150,000 of assets or real property. This requirement also applies to situations in which the deceased passed without preparing a last will and testament. An estate for which there was no will is considered “intestate.” The first step in such a case is for a person to Petition the Court to open probate and to be appointed as the “administrator” of the estate. The Petition is then served on the heirs and all other interested parties and the process of wrapping up the estate can begin. This wrapping up includes getting all of the estate’s affairs in order, notifying creditors, ensuring all claims are paid, that all tax obligations are settled, and providing the Court with a final accounting. Once this accounting is provided then the process of distributing assets to the heirs can typically begin.

The nature of the estate will determine to what extent the administrator must gain permission from the Court to handle matters. In more complicated cases the Court may require the administrator to seek approval to pay certain debts or to liquidate certain assets. Under California’s Independent Administration laws, however, there are many instances in which matters can be handled without the Court having to approve each and every transaction. It is crucial to ensure that all matters are handled properly, and that Court permission is gained when required, so that the process goes smoothly and the administrator does not face liability. Hiring an intestate probate lawyer can help assist with the process. In addition to San Bernardino, I handle matters in Rancho Cucamonga, Fontana, Ontario, Victorville, Rialto, Hesperia, Chino, Upland, Apple Valley, Redlands, Highland, Colton, Yucaipa, Montclair, elsewhere in the Inland Empire, as well as Los Angeles and Orange County.

Results vary based on facts, circumstances, and legal issues involved. All cases must be properly reviewed prior to determining applicable law and likely conclusion.

A probate lawyer can help San Bernardino residents ensure that an intestate estate is handled properly

As mentioned above, it is crucial that the administrator “cross all the ‘t’s’ and dot all the ‘i’s’.” Hiring a probate lawyer can help to ensure that this happens. The idea of handling an estate may seem overwhelming to the administrator. An attorney has extensive experience in such issues, will know how to formulate a methodic plan for ensuring that all issues are resolved properly, and will ensure that the Probate Court’s permission is gained when required. Contact counsel sooner rather than later if you face such a situation.