Probating a Will in Santa Cruz
What is probating a will?
Probating a will is a process in which a court supervises the legal transfer of the content of the will of a deceased person. With the help of an experienced Santa Cruz attorney, the executor of the will proves its validity and presents the probate court with lists of your property, debts, and inheritors. The court then settles your accounts and distributes your property.
What are the requirements of probate?
The probate process includes:
- Proving in court that your will is valid
- Identifying and inventorying your property
- Having the property appraised
- Paying all outstanding debts and taxes
- Distributing all remaining property as the will stipulates
Is going through the probate process really necessary?
It depends on your personal situation. When a deceased person leaves property to be transferred, the probate process provides for the orderly distribution of that property. Probate can be very useful for large estates with complicated wills, trusts, and debts.
That said, not all property necessarily needs go through probate after a person dies. California has a simplified procedure for transferring properties for estates worth under a certain amount—from $20,000 to $150,000 depending on individual circumstances and the kind of property involved.
Even these procedures, however, can be complicated and may require the help of a lawyer. As when drafting a will, it is advisable not to go through this process alone. You should consult one or more probate attorneys in Santa Cruz to see if debts or tax claims make probate your best option.
What individuals are involved in the probate process?
The people involved in probate include the following:
- The executor of the will, who is usually the spouse of the deceased or the most responsible adult offspring as previously appointed by the deceased
- A lawyer
- A representative of the probate court
Again, while the executor may be able to handle the demands of probate, it is advisable to consult with someone proficient in probate law who can share his or her knowledge and help your executor meet all deadlines while avoiding technical mistakes and delays. A Santa Cruz lawyer who has navigated the probate process many times before may also help family members avoid disagreements over minor and more serious issues that may arise at a time during a mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting time of their lives.