If an individual dies and their estate has a gross value in excess of one hundred fifty thousand dollars ($150,000.00), then court supervised probate administration is necessary. Probate administration is a legally complex process requiring numerous filings and specific notice to multiple entities. MarvanLaw, A.P.C. is experienced in probate administration and remains committed to helping you navigate this process efficiently and thoroughly. MarvanLaw, A.P.C.’s goal in a probate administration is to efficiently and honestly manage to court process so that the decedent’s beneficiaries receive the estate assets as quickly as possible.
The first step in probate administration is determining whether the decedent has a valid Last Will and Testament. If there is a valid Last Will and Testament it should indicate who the executor of the estate shall be and how the estate should be distributed. If the decedent did not execute a valid Last Will and Testament, then the court will appoint an administrator pursuant to the priority of appointment set forth in in the California Probate Code and eventually distribute the decedent’s estate pursuant to the laws of intestacy.
Once it is determined whether there is a valid Last Will and Testament, someone will need to petition a court of proper jurisdiction to appoint an administrator of the estate. This initial petition is nuanced and requiring specific disclosures, proper notice, and publication. An initial hearing will occur and, provided there is no complications, the court then appoints an administrator of the estate to handle the final affairs of the decedent’s estate.
Once the court appoints an administrator, a formal Order needs to be filed with the court along with proof of proper bond. After the Order is signed by the court, the administrator will need to file their signed Duties and Liabilities and their Letters of Administration. The Letters of Administration and Order Appointing Administrator are the documents required by third party individuals because they prove the administrator is authorized to handle the affairs of the decedent.
An administrator of the estate has a fiduciary responsibility to all creditors and beneficiaries of the decedent’s estate. The administrator must marshal all the known assets that rightfully belong to decedent’s estate and file documents with the court regarding the nature and value of the assets. All of these assets must be appropriately appraised for a date of death value for tax purposes and to set the statutory fees of the administrator and their attorney. It is important that the administrator keeps decedent’s assets segregated from their own individual assets as the administrator may needto account to the court and beneficiaries regarding the financial affairs of the estate from the date of appointment to the date of final distribution.
The administrator must notify all known and unknown creditors of the decedent. Notice must be sent to specific institutions that potentially provided services to the decedent. These notices are particular and time sensitive and the court will not finalize an estate unless the administrator has provided proper notice. If a creditor chooses to file a claim in decedent’s estate the administrator must resolve the claim before the court will finalize the estate.
Once the administrator marshals decedent’s assets, properly appraises decedent’s assets, notifies all known and unknown creditors of decedent, notifies all relevant institutions, and resolves all properly filed creditors’ claims the estate is ready to be closed. Closing an estate requires a petition for final distribution which may, depending on the circumstances of the case, require an accounting of administrator’s actions from the date they were appointed by the court to the date the estate is ready to be closed. The petition for final distribution indicates what assets are available for distribution, requests reimbursement of costs incurred during the time period of administration, sets forth statutory and extraordinary fees of administrator and their attorney, and the proposes the final distribution of the estate.
Provided there are no issues with the Petition for Final Distribution, the court confirms the requests set forth therein. The administrator then files a formal order with the court and moves forward with the payment of fees and costs and the final distributions. The administrator receives acknowledgment of receipts with the court along with an ex parte petition for final discharge and the probate administration is complete.
The process set forth above is abbreviated and not meant to completely describe the probate administration process in its entirety. There are nuances to each case that must be assessed on an individual basis. Such nuances may include but are not limited to the propriety of a spousal property petition, homestead exemptions, family allowances, guardianship matters, real property sales, special administration, preliminary distributions, and heirship determinations.
MarvanLaw, A.P.C. is committed to helping you navigate the probate administration process in an efficient and thorough manner. Administrators who are tasked with handling a probate administration can become overwhelmed by the responsibilities, intricacies, and bureaucracy of probate administration. MarvanLaw, A.P.C. is steadfast in its goal to streamline the probate administration on behalf of administrators, minimizing the time and emotional toll of a probate administration. Feel free to contact MarvanLaw, A.P.C. for assistance and guidance if the probate administration process.