If you do not have an estate plan, you have in-effect transferred the decision-making power to decide who manages the administration of your estate over to the courts. The courts follow processes in established statutes to determine who your heirs are and what they are entitled to receive.
In California, you might hear what is referred to elsewhere as a personal representative as the administrator of the estate. Rest assured that these are one and the same in terms of the role carried out. It’s important that the person appointed to serve as a California estate administrator know what their responsibilities are so that they can manage the task list accurately and effectively.
Having no will in place means that a personal representative must be appointed to manage estate administration. After the probate court has approved an executor or an administrator, this person’s first step is to take an inventory of everything that the deceased person owned.
This includes investment accounts, cars, clothing, real property, insurance proceeds, and retirement accounts. The administrator or the executor then has to give mandatory notices to all potential creditors or current creditors of the estate. This allows existing creditors or even state entities to make claims against the estate. It can take a long period of time for the estate to be administrated or probated. After all of the claims have been settled, litigated or paid, the administrator files a final accounting with the court.
The final accounting tells the court what estate property remains after all the claims and bills are paid. After this final accounting has been approved, the probate court orders the administrators to distribute the estate property to the heirs who were defined in the previous process.
Need help picking a California estate administrator? Want to talk to an attorney about your options or to get some insight on how long probate and estate administration might take based on the current state of your estate plan? Schedule a call with our office in Pasadena today.