Probate is a legal process that manages a person’s assets and debts after their death. Careful planning can sometimes avoid probate, but in most cases, at least some of the deceased person’s assets must go through probate.

Understanding the documents needed for probate in Tustin will make the process easier when you are responsible for handling a loved one’s estate after they die. When you are having trouble locating a document or need advice or support on another issue, contact a local probate attorney.

Understanding the Basics of Probate

The legal term for everything a person owns when they die is “estate.” Probate is the process of settling a deceased person’s estate. It involves collecting all their property, paying their debts, and transferring whatever is left to their heirs.

When the deceased person, called the decedent, left a will, the heirs must submit the will to probate. When the decedent did not leave a will, heirs still must go through probate in most cases. Probate might not be required when the decedent left little property. An attorney could advise whether probate is necessary in a specific case.

The will usually names an executor, who is the person who will handle settling the estate. When the will names an executor who is dead or cannot fulfill the duties because of health or other issues, or if the decedent did not leave a will, the court names an administrator to fill that role. The administrator is often a close relative, like a spouse or child, but it could be anyone trustworthy and willing to do the job.

The Process of Opening Probate

Family members cannot legally sell the decedent’s property or access their bank accounts until probate is complete, so it is important to consult an attorney soon after the death to start the process. The executor or a family member files a petition with the court asking it to open probate using Form DE-111. The court will set a date for a hearing, usually about one month after the filing date.

The person who filed the petition must publish the notice of hearing in the local newspaper three times and mail it to everyone named in the will and the heirs at law. These are typically a spouse, children, and grandchildren, but other kin could inherit if a decedent did not have a spouse or children. A lawyer could help someone identify the heirs at law in a specific case.

At the hearing, the executor or person who brought the petition should have several documents to prove the need for probate in Tustin. These include the death certificate, a copy of the decedent’s will when available, bank statements, tax records, property deeds, and other needed documents that could help the court assess the estate’s value. They should also bring proof of publication and mailing of the hearing notice.

Documents Required During the Probate Process

During the hearing, there may be a discussion about posting a surety bond. Some wills waive the bond, but in other cases, the person handling the estate must buy an insurance policy that will reimburse the estate when the administrator or executor steals or commits misconduct.

The executor or administrator will also apply for letters testamentary. This is a document the court issues confirming that the person has the legal authority to access the decedent’s property, including bank accounts, safe deposit boxes, investments, real estate, and any other property they own at the time of their death. It also enables the person to open a bank account in the name of the estate to collect the decedent’s property, pay their bills, and distribute the remainder to the heirs.

Financial institutions and government agencies like the Social Security Administration will need a copy of the decedent’s death certificate. Although some will accept a photocopy, many require a certified copy. It is worthwhile to order multiple certified copies of documents needed for probate in Tustin so they are on hand when requested.

Consult With a Tustin Attorney About Probate Document Requirements

Probate can get complicated. When you are in charge of someone’s estate, you may need help managing all your duties and ensuring you have all the necessary documents needed for probate in Tustin.

A lawyer at Amity Law Group has the skills and experience to see you through the process. Call today to set up a time for a private consultation.

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