Probate is the process whereby the ownership of property changes from the descedent to the heirs or beneficiaries when there is no Living Trust.  In California, a Trust is the best method of avoiding Probate for heirs or beneficiaries.  While a legal Will cannot help in avoiding Probate, it may help in identifying beneficiaries and/ or executors.  Sometimes the descedent passes away without a Will or a Trust and this requires a transfer of assets through ‘intestate succession’ (meaning that the assets will go to the closest living relative).  To ‘Probate a Will’ means to submit the Will to the Probate court so that the named beneficiaries receive the assets in the estate.

There are 2 kinds of Wills:

  1. Formal Will i.e. a Will that is not handwritten and has at least 2 witnesses & is signed & dated
  2. Holographic Will i.e. a Will that is in the descedent’s handwriting and signed and dated without witnesses

Both of these Wills can be admitted into Probate and are accepted as valid Wills.

The prospect of a Probate can be confusing.  If a family member has passed away and left behind property such as a house or a condo, the remaining family members or close friends don’t know what to do.  The best solution is to speak to an experienced Probate Attorney.  The Attorney can assess the situation, determine the value of the property and help to transfer the ownership of the property by way of a Probate, if needed.

Some of the time, the benficiaries or heirs of a Probated property wish to sell the property.  Once sold, the net proceeds from escrow are placed in an estate account.  Creditor claims and other administration expenses will be paid from this account.  People are often concerned about inheritance tax, house taxes or land taxes.  At the present time, there are no state or federal inheritance tax.  This is subject to legislative change.  Any taxes owed on property or land will be paid in escrow once the property or land is sold.

It is very important to speak with an experienced Probate Attorney when a close friend or family member has passed away as it is extremely difficult to go through the Probate process and Probate court without an Attorney.  For more information, or to schedule a free consultation, call Legal Action Workshop @ 800-HELP-444 (800-435-7444) for more information about Probate or visit .

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