California Probate: The Basic
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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021
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When a California resident dies, the collection and distribution of their possessions is governed by California probate law. The probate process depends on the total value of the decedent’s (deceased person’s) estate after all taxes, debts, and probate fees are paid. If you are the heir to the estate of a recently deceased person in California, the following information should guide your approach to the California probate court.
Property That Can Bypass California Probate
Some property does not require the probate process. This includes property held in living trusts or held jointly by two or more owners. For example, the decedent and his or her spouse may own a home together as joint tenants with right of survivorship. When one spouse dies, the other spouse receives the deceased spouse’s share of the house automatically, without going through probate. Likewise, cars and/or joint bank accounts can be handled in much the same way. Titles to cars can be held jointly and bank accounts can be designated as Pay On Death (or POD) accounts. Due to the tax consequences of such arrangements, you may need to consult an experienced California probate lawyer who can help you understand the tax fallout of jointly held property.
Additional California Probate Resources
Contra Costa County
Del Norte County
El Dorado County
Los Angeles County
San Benito County
San Bernardino County
San Diego County
San Francisco County
San Joaquin County
San Luis Obispo County
San Mateo County
Santa Barbara County
Santa Clara County
Santa Cruz County
Also, see our article on Bypassing the California Probate Process