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When is probate needed in California?

This blog post will give a brief summary explaining what probate is and when it is needed in California. In its simplest terms, the probate process is a court-supervised administration of a decedent’s estate. The probate proceeding involves validating a will, if there is one, appointing an executor, determining the decedent’s assets that are subject to probate, paying outstanding debts, and disbursing funds to the beneficiaries.

In California the threshold amount is $184,500, which means if you die and your estate’s gross value exceeds that value, then probate is necessary. The exception to this is home is titled under a joint tenancy or community property, which would only be necessary upon the death of the surviving joint tenant or spouse.

If a probate property is a Trust Sale or the Executor/Administrator of the estate has been awarded "full independent powers" under the Independent Administration of Estates Act (IAEA), the sale may not require court approval.

If the Executor has full independent powers, he or she may choose to sell the property. When an offer is accepted, the estate's counsel sends a Notice of Proposed Action to all heirs outlining the details of the proposed sale. After that, the heirs have 15 days to protest the transaction. If no objections are filed within 15 days, the sale is finalized without a court hearing. Regardless of the specifics of the probate transaction, executors are highly advised to consult with an experienced probate attorney in order to safeguard the estate's best interests.


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