The word probate has a negative connotation for many people, but that is usually due to rumors they hear about the process and not their actual experience with it. In most cases, probate is not something to fear. It is actually quite helpful.
According to California Courts, probate is an important legal process that can help ensure the disbursement of your estate follows your wishes and legal rules. The probate court oversees this process. A judge will work with your estate representative to disburse your assets according to your wishes.
During probate, the court may order your estate executor to pay your debts, find your heirs and transfer property to your heirs. The court may also investigate the validity of your will and figure the value of your property.
Probate begins when your estate executor alerts the court of your death and the need for probate. The court will then open a case and begin instructing your executor on his or her duties. When needed, the court will also make decisions on issues, such as may occur if someone contests your will.
Your executor will first pay debts out of your estate. Then, he or she will disburse anything left to your heirs according to your wishes. The court will oversee the process to ensure your executor pays all required debts and disburses the estate to the proper heirs.
The court and the executor
The court and estate executor play important yet distinct roles. The court is there to oversee the process and only steps in when there is a legal matter at hand. Your executor is the person who will handle all the duties of caring, managing and disbursing your estate. It is essential to choose the right executor because some situations will not require probate, and your executor alone will be in charge of carrying out your wishes.