Submitting a will to probate is often necessary to ensure that heirs receive any property gifted to them by a decedent. But how does this process start? And what can people expect once a probate court opens an estate?
The court does not initiate probate on its own. Instead, a party must submit a probate petition to the court and prove that the testator is deceased. When a court receives this petition, it will initiate the process of opening an estate in probate in Orange County and appointing a personal representative to administer it. A skilled probate attorney could provide more information on the best steps for an individual to take during these proceedings.
Submitting a Will to the Probate Court
For probate to begin, the court must receive two things. The court first requires a copy of the will, which details a decedent’s wishes for how their property will be transferred to their heirs.
The second item that the court must receive is a formal petition for the court to initiate probate. According to California Probate Code § 8000, any interested party can submit this application, including a named heir or a nominated personal representative. A knowledgeable attorney in Orange County could help surviving family members understand what they need to bring to court to open an estate.
The Appointment of an Estate Executor
Once a court verifies that a will is genuine and valid, it can appoint a personal representative. The representative has exclusive powers to administer the estate. Generally, administering an estate includes paying off a decedent’s debts and distributing their property according to their will.
In some cases, a testator may nominate an executor or personal representative in their will. However, if a will does not name an executor, a court will appoint one. All estates require personal representatives who have a duty to both the court and the estate to perform their job correctly.
To empower a personal representative, the court will issue letters of testamentary. Under CA Prob. Code § 8400, these letters give the representative legal power to act on behalf of the decedent’s estate. These duties can include opening a bank account, taking control of property or real estate, and paying creditors out of estate funds. A skilled lawyer in Orange County could help nominated representatives understand their roles and ensure they follow their duties under the law.
An Attorney Could Help Provide Guidance Concerning the Opening of an Estate in Probate in Orange County
The state’s probate process follows strict procedures. To begin the process, the court must receive notice of a person’s death and a copy of a valid will. Any party may submit this information to the court as soon as a person dies. Once the court receives this information, it will work to validate the will. If the will appears genuine and no one objects to the document, the court can appoint a personal representative who has the power to pay a decedent’s outstanding debts, sell their property, and distribute their assets accordingly.
It is the responsibility of family members or interested parties to begin the probate process. A lawyer in Orange County could help individuals to understand how probate functions, gather necessary documentation, and guide nominated representatives through their essential roles. Call today to learn more.