When faced with the loss of a family member or loved one, the emotional toll can be immeasurable. Along with handling the emotional impact of the loss, you may also be faced with handling the practical aspects as well.
One question that often comes up is whether or not the decedent’s estate is required to pass through the legal process known as probate. The answer to that question depends on the law of the state where the decedent was considered to be a resident at the time of death. While state laws can differ somewhat, there are commonalities as well.
One important factor is often the presence or absence of a Last Will and Testament. When the decedent failed to execute a valid Last Will and Testament prior to death, the State often requires the estate to pass through probate in order to legally determine who the heirs are to the estate. The estate will then be distributed according to the state laws of intestate succession.
Another big factor is typically the size, or value, of the estate. Most states, including California, offer a simplified version of probate that may be used if the total value of the estate is less than a certain dollar amount. In California, it is about $150,000. Sometimes, the type of assets involved may also play a part. If your loved one’s estate qualifies for a simplified process, this can save the estate both time and money.
Be sure to consult with an experienced and qualified probate attorney if you are unsure which type of probate process is required.