Probate refers to the entire process of a court-supervised administration of a decedent’s estate whether decedent died with a will (testate) or without a will (intestate). A probate begins for testate cases with the filing of a petition for the probate of a will and progresses to the court determination of the legal validity of the will, the admission of the will to probate and the issuance of letters testamentary to the executor (personal representative) designated in the will. A probate begins for intestate cases with the filing of a petition for letters of administration and progresses to the issuance of letters of administration to the administrator of the estate (personal representative). After letters testamentary or letters of administration have been issued, the personal representative under court supervision is responsible for collecting all of the decedent’s assets, the payment of all of decedent’s legitimate debts and taxes, providing an accounting of decedent’s estate to the court and to all of the beneficiaries of decedent’s will or to all of the beneficiaries of the decedent’s intestate estate, and to the final distribution of all of decedent’s estate according to decedent’s will or according to the statutory intestacy laws of California set forth in the California Probate Code.
A probate administration does not include property, or an interest in property, held by decedent as joint tenancy property or as community property with the right of survivorship, nor does a probate administration include pay on death bank accounts, transfer on death investment accounts, instruments having a beneficiary designation such as an annuity, IRA or life insurance policy owned by decedent or property of a decedent held in a trust.
In a probate administration payment of administrative costs such as the court filing fees, publication fees, probate referee fees and the fees or compensation paid to the personal representative and the personal representative’s attorney are paid out of the estate assets at the conclusion of the probate administration. The fees paid to the personal representative and to the attorney, however, are set by statute and must be approved by the court before payment can be made. Probate proceedings are open to the public.
The Law Offices of Melvin K. Rube provides representation to personal representatives and to beneficiaries in probate administration cases.