Frequently asked questions about Probate

How to Probate a Decedent’s Estate


Frequently asked questions about Probate.
Click a topic to learn more:

1. What is probate?
2. Is probate necessary?
3. Does all property go through probate when a person dies?
4. Should I choose the simplified procedures?
5. Do life insurance or retirement benefits need to go through probate?
6. Do living trusts go through probate?
7. How much does probate cost?
8. How are fees determined for the personal representative and attorney?
9. How long does probate take?
10. Where will the probate hearing be?
11. Who is in charge of the probate process?
12. Who can be the personal representative?
13. Who is not allowed to be the personal representative?
14. Does the Court supervise the personal representative?
15. What does the personal representative do?
16. If I am named as executor in a Will, do I have to serve?
17. If I serve as executor, will I get paid?
18. What happens if the personal representative fails to perform their duty?
19. Do I have to use a lawyer for the probate process?
20. What if someone objects to the Will?
21. Who can contest a Will?
22. When can a Will be contested?
23. What if there is no Will?
24. What happens if we cannot find a Will?
25. What if the decedent owned land in more than one state?
26. How do creditors get paid?
27. If I am a beneficiary and the estate does not have enough money, do I have to pay creditors out of my own pocket?
28. How are taxes handled in probate?
29. Am I responsible for paying the rest of my deceased spouse’s bill?
30. How can I find out if there was a Will?
31. What if someone dies and I have their Will in my possession?
32. As an heir, how do I stay informed of what is happening in the probate case?
33. How do I get appointed as personal representative?
34. What are Letters?
35. How do I prove a Will?
36. Who should get notice of the Petition for Probate?
37. What happens if an emergency arises before a personal representative is appointed?
38. Do I need to file a Bond?
39. What happens after appointment?
40. Creditor’s claims?

1. What is probate?

Probate is when the court supervises the processes that transfer legal title of property from the estate of the person who has died (the “decedent”) to his or her beneficiaries.

Usually, you have to file court forms and appear in court to:

• Prove to the Court that the Will is valid,
• Appoint a legal representative with authority to act on behalf of the decedent,
• Identify and inventory the decedent’s property, and have that property appraised,
• Pay debts and taxes, and
• Distribute the remaining property according to the terms of the Will or to the decedent’s heirs.

2. Is probate necessary?

If the person who died did not have any property to transfer, probate is usually not necessary. The deceased person’s survivors may decide to open a probate if there are debts owed or if there is a need to set a deadline for creditors to file claims. 

When there is property to transfer the probate process also provides for the distribution of the estate’s property to the decedent’s heirs.

3. Does all property go through probate when a person dies?



No. The term “Probate Estate” refers to any property subject to the authority of the probate court. Assets distributed outside the probate process are part of a person’s “non-probate estate.” 

California has simplified procedures for transferring property for estates worth under a certain amount (from $20,000 to $100,000 depending on the circumstances and the kind of property). Usually a notarized declaration may be presented to banks or institutions to obtain property owned by the decedent in lieu of having to probate an estate. 

There is also an easy way to transfer property to a surviving spouse, property held in Joint Tenancy and life insurance and retirement benefits. After the death of a spouse, a spousal property petition can be used to transfer assets from the deceased spouse to the surviving spouse or domestic partner and probably will require less time and money than a full probate proceeding.

4. Should I choose the simplified procedures?



Not necessarily. There may be debts or tax claims that make probate a better option for you. If there are a lot of issues to handle, going through probate allows you to pay the person who deals with the creditors and taxing authorities.

5. Do life insurance or retirement benefits need to go through probate?



No. The benefits can be paid directly to a named beneficiary. Money from IRAs, Keoghs, and 401(k) accounts transfer automatically to the persons named as beneficiaries. Bank accounts that are set up as pay-on-death accounts (PODs) or “in Trust for” accounts (a “Totten Trust”) with a named beneficiary also pass to the beneficiary without probate.

6. Do living trusts go through probate?



No. When a living trust holds title to some of the decedent’s property, that property also passes to the beneficiaries without probate.

7. How much does probate cost?

The cost of probate is set by state law. 

When all the costs are added up – these may include appraisal costs, executor’s fees, court filing fees and certified copies, costs for a type of insurance policy known as a “surety bond,” plus legal and accounting fees–probate can cost from 4% to 7% of the total estate value, sometimes more. 

If someone contests the Will, there could be thousands of dollars of litigation costs.

8. How are fees determined for the personal representative and attorney?



California law allows both a Personal Representative and the attorney for the Personal Representative to take a fee (referred to as a statutory fee) for ordinary services, calculated as a percentage of the appraised value of the estate property. The formula for calculating the fee is as follows, from Probate Code Section 10810:

4% of the first one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000), plus
3% of the next one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000), plus
2% of the next eight hundred thousand dollars ($800,000), plus
1% of the next nine million dollars ($9,000,000), plus
 ½ of 1% of the next fifteen million dollars ($15,000,000).

For example, the statutory fee for an estate of only a $500,000 house would be $13,000 to the personal representative and $13,000 to the attorney.

Mortgages or other debt obligations are not considered in computing the fee base. 
However, the fee base used to calculate the statutory fee also includes income received during administration, plus gains over the appraised value on assets sold during administration, minus any losses from the appraised value on assets sold during administration.

9. How long does probate take?



California law says the personal representative must complete probate within one year from the date of appointment, unless he files a federal estate tax. In this case, the personal representative can have 18 months to complete probate. 

If probate has not been completed by that time, the personal representative must file a status report to the court to explain what still has to be done and how much time that will take. 

If the personal representative does not report to the court, the beneficiaries can ask the court to order him or her to file an accounting or take other actions to close probate. The court can remove the personal representative and appoint someone else.

Sometimes there are circumstances that can make probate take longer. If there is a Will contest (a claim filed with the court that all or part of the will is not valid), or the size and complexity of the estate requires extra time, or it is hard to find beneficiaries, the process can drag out. Some probate cases take years to resolve.

10. Where will the probate hearing be?

In California, probate hearings are in the Probate Department of the Superior Court in the county where the decedent lived at the time of his or her death.

11. Who is in charge of the probate process?

If there is a Will, the person named as Executor will usually be appointed as the personal representative – this means he is responsible for managing the estate and following probate rules and procedures. 

The executor has no authority to act as personal representative until he is appointed by the court and formal “Letters Testamentary” are issued by the Court Clerk. 

If there is no Will, or if the Will doesn’t name an executor, or the person named as executor in the Will is unable to be executor or does not want to be executor, the probate court appoints someone called an administrator to handle the process. The Court usually chooses the closest living relative, or a person who will inherit some portion of the decedent’s assets.

12. Who can be the personal representative?



The personal representative does not have to be a legal or financial expert. But, she must have reasonable prudence and judgment and be very careful, honest, loyal, impartial and diligent. This is called a “fiduciary duty” — the duty to act with good faith and honesty on behalf of someone else. 

The personal representative should have good organizational skills and be able to keep track of details. It is preferable if he lives nearby and is familiar with the decedent’s finances. This makes it easier to do tasks and find important records.

13. Who is not allowed to be the personal representative?

The following people cannot be the personal representative:

a. A minor,
b. a person subject to a conservatorship or otherwise incapable of performing the duties of personal representative,
c. a surviving business partner of the decedent, if an interested person objects (unless the Will names the partner as executor), or
d. a non-resident of the U.S. (unless the Will names the non-resident as executor).
e. a convicted felon or someone with an outstanding arrest warrant.

14. Does the Court supervise the personal representative?



Not usually. But, in some situations the Court requires the personal representative to ask the Court’s permission to sell real estate or business interests owned by the estate. The personal representative cannot do any of the following things without the Court’s permission:
a. pay fees to himself or herself,
b. pay fees to his or her attorney,
c. make a preliminary distribution of property to beneficiaries (with a few exceptions), or
d. close the estate.


If the personal representative lives outside of California, the court may require that he get a surety bond (an insurance policy that protects the estate beneficiaries in the event of the personal representative’s wrongful use of the estate’s property), even if the Will waives this requirement.

15. What does the Personal Representative do?



The Personal Representative must:

a. decide if there are any probate assets;
b. locate the decedent’s assets and manage them during the probate process. This could take up to a year or longer and may involve deciding whether to sell real estate or securities owned by the decedent;
c. receive payments due to the estate, including interest, dividends, and other income (e.g., unpaid salary, vacation pay, and other company benefits)
d. set up an estate checking account to hold money that is owed to the decedent — for example, paychecks or stock dividends;
e. figure out who is going to get what and how much under the Will. If there is no Will, the administrator will have to look at state law (Probate code Sections 6400 – 6414, called “intestate succession” statutes) to find out who the decedent’s heirs are and determine each heir’s share of the estate;
f. value or appraise the estate’s assets;
g. give official legal notice to creditors and potential creditors of the probate proceeding and the deadlines for creditors to file claims, according to state law;
h. investigate the validity of all claims against the estate;
i. pay funeral bills, outstanding debts, and valid claims;
j. use estate funds to pay continuing expenses — for example, mortgage payments, utility bills and homeowner’s insurance premiums;
k. handle day-to-day details, such as disconnecting utilities, ending leases and credit cards, and notifying banks and government agencies — such as Social Security, the post office;
l. file tax returns and pay income and estate taxes – including a final state and federal income tax return covering the period from the beginning of the tax year to the date of death;
m. after getting the court’s permission, distribute the decedent’s property to the people or organizations named in the Will, or to the decedent’s heirs if there is no Will; and
n. file receipts for distribution and wrap up any closing details for the estate.

16. If I am named as executor in a Will, do I have to serve?

No. If you choose not to serve, the Court will probably appoint the alternate executor to be the personal representative. 

If there is no alternate executor, or if that person doesn’t want to serve, the Court will appoint someone to serve. The Court usually appoints a capable family member or an independent professional fiduciary.

If you decide to be the personal representative, you can resign at any time. But, you may have to give an “accounting” to the Court for the time you served.

17. If I serve as executor, will I get paid?



Yes. In addition to your out-of-pocket expenses to manage and settle the estate, personal representatives usually earn a statutory fee of 2% – 4% of the probate estate. The percentage decreases as the size of the estate increases. 

The Court must approve all fees and expenses. And, in extraordinary circumstances, the Court may allow other fees.


Fees are taxable as ordinary income and must be reported on your personal income tax return. So, if you are the personal representative and the sole beneficiary of the estate, it usually does not make sense to take any fees. But, the money you get as beneficiary from the estate is income tax free.

18. What happens if the personal representative fails to perform his or her duty?

The court may lower or deny compensation and can replace the personal representative with someone else. The personal representative may even have to pay for any damages he caused.



A personal representative may be held liable for:

a. improperly managing the assets of the estate,
b. failing to collect claims and money due the estate,
c. overpaying creditors,
d. selling an asset without the authority to do so, or at an inappropriate price,
e. not filing tax returns on time,
f. distributing property to the wrong beneficiaries, or
g. distributing property to beneficiaries before all creditors have been paid.

19. Do I have to use a lawyer for the probate process?

No. But, it may be a good idea if the estate is complex. A lawyer can help you meet all deadlines and avoid mistakes and delays. 

A lawyer can sometimes help avoid disagreements among family members over minor or major issues. But the lawyer represents the interests of the personal representative, not the beneficiaries.

20. What if someone objects to the Will?



If someone files an objection to the Will, or produces another Will, a “Will Contest” has begun. 

Will contests are not uncommon, but few people actually win one. Still, they can cost a lot of money and time.

21. Who can contest a Will?



Only a person with “standing” can contest a Will. This means the person must have a personal financial stake in the outcome.



Examples of people with standing to contest a Will are:

a. a child or spouse who was cut out of the Will
b. a child who receives one third of the estate if a sibling receives two thirds,
c. children who feel that the local charity should not get all the parent’s assets,
d. anyone who was treated more favorably in an earlier Will.
Sometimes, there is a Will contest because someone wants a different person, bank, or trust company to serve as personal representative for the estate, or as a trustee of trusts created by the Will.

22. When can a Will be contested?



Most challenges to Wills are by potential heirs or beneficiaries who got little or nothing. Will contests must be filed in Probate court within a certain number of days after receiving notice of the death, or petition to admit the Will to probate, or issuance of Letters Testamentary to a personal representative.

Examples of reasons to challenge a Will are:

a. there is a later Will which, if valid, would replace the earlier Will;
b. the Will was made at a time the decedent was not mentally competent to make a Will;
c. the Will was the result of fraud, mistake or “undue influence”;
d. the Will was not properly “executed” (signed by the decedent);
e. the so-called Will is actually a forgery;
f. for some other reason (such as a pre-existing contract) the Will is invalid.


The probate court may invalidate all of the Will or only the challenged portion. If the entire Will is found invalid, the proceeds will probably be distributed according to the state laws of intestacy, unless there is a prior revoked Will that is revived and admitted to probate.

23. What if there is no Will?

If a person dies without a Will (known as dying “intestate”), the probate court appoints a personal representative (known as an “administrator”).

The major difference between dying testate and dying intestate is that an intestate estate is distributed according to state law (known as “intestate succession”). A testate estate is distributed according to the instructions left by the decedent in his or her Will.

24. What happens if we cannot find a Will?

If a Will is lost or can’t be found, the specific facts and circumstances and state law will determine what happens. 

For instance, if the Will is missing because the decedent intentionally revoked it, an earlier Will or the laws on intestate succession would determine who gets the decedent’s estate. 

Or, if a Will is missing because it was stored in a bank vault destroyed in a fire, the probate court may accept a photocopy of the Will (or the lawyer’s draft or computer file), if there is evidence that the decedent properly signed the original.

25. What if the decedent owned land in more than one state?

The probate laws of the state in which the decedent was a permanent resident determine who will get the decedent’s personal property (wherever it was located) and the decedent’s real property located within the state. This is why probate is almost always filed in the decedent’s home state. 

If the decedent owned real property in another state, that state’s laws determine how the real property will be distributed. 

There will be probate in each state where there is real property, in addition to the home state. Each state has its own method for distributing the decedent’s real property. 

Even if there is a Will, the Will is first admitted to probate in the home state, then it must be submitted to probate in each state in which the decedent owned real property. 

The extra probate procedure is called “ancillary probate.” Some states insist upon the appointment of a personal representative who is a local resident to administer the property in that state.

26. How do creditors get paid?

Part of the probate process is to notify creditors of the death. Notice requirements vary. In some cases, you must provide direct notice. In others, you must publish a notice in a newspaper in the city where the decedent lived. 

Creditors must file a claim with the court for the amounts due within a fixed period of time. If the executor approves the claim, the bill is paid out of the estate. If the executor rejects the claim, the creditor must sue for payment. 

If there is not enough money to pay all debts, state law determines who gets paid first. The personal representative most likely will sell property to pay approved creditor claims.

27. If I am a beneficiary and the estate does not have enough money, do I have to pay creditors out of my own pocket?



Generally, no. The law says you cannot be made responsible for others’ general debts without your consent. 

Unless the decedent gave away his or her assets to someone shortly before dying, or otherwise acted in concert with them to defraud the creditors, the beneficiaries should not have to pay the creditors just because they are beneficiaries. 

There may be nothing left in the estate for the beneficiaries after paying the creditors. But, the beneficiaries will not owe the creditors money. 

Still, if the children or beneficiaries took property or benefits from the decedent or the estate, or assumed liability for care given the decedent, or guaranteed payment, they can be liable for some or all of the decedent’s debts separately.

28. How are taxes handled in probate?



For federal and state tax purposes, death means two things:

a. It marks the date of the close of the decedent’s last tax year for filing an income tax return, and
b. It establishes a new, separate entity for tax purposes, the “estate.”
For federal taxes, you may have to fill out and file one or more of the following forms. (It depends on the decedent’s income, the size of the estate, and the income of the estate):
c. Final Form 1040 Federal Income Tax return (the decedent’s personal income tax return)
d. Form 1041 Federal Fiduciary Income Tax returns for the estate
e. Form 709 Federal Gift Tax return(s)
f. Form 706 Federal Estate Tax return

For California taxes, the executor must file any needed state income tax return, state fiduciary income tax returns during the probate period, estate tax and gift tax returns. There may be other taxes, too, like local real estate and personal property taxes, business taxes, and any special state taxes. The executor must also check for taxes owed for years prior to the decedent’s death.

29. Am I responsible for paying the rest of my deceased spouse’s bill?

Maybe. If you and your spouse shared the same bank account and credit cards, checks, etc., then you may have to pay the bill. 

If the credit cards or accounts were opened with only your spouse’s information as reference, then you may not be liable. 

Creditors usually collect their debts from the estate before the remainder is divided among the heirs. Each case depends on the circumstances. Talk to an experienced probate lawyer.

30. How can I find out if there was a Will?



First, check with the Probate Court in the county of the state where the decedent lived. 

If the Will was filed, it will likely be available to the public for viewing. But many people, even with substantial assets, die without a Will.

And, if the decedent held all property through a living trust or a joint ownership arrangement, there may be no need to probate the Will.

31. What if someone dies and I have the Will in my possession?



The law says you must “deposit” the Will with the superior court in the county where the decedent lived, even if there will be no probate. There is no fee involved. 

But, the court does not accept Wills for persons who are still living.

32. As an heir, how do I stay informed of what is happening in the probate case?

You will automatically get notice of certain petitions filed, including the petition for appointment of the personal representative and the final petition when it is time for the estate to be closed and distributed. 

If the personal representative wants to sell real property, you should also get a Notice of Proposed Action. If you want to get copies of everything filed in the probate court concerning the estate, file a Request for Special Notice. There is no fee to file this document. 

You can contact the personal representative directly if you have any questions. You can also contact the attorney for the estate. But, keep in mind the attorney works for the personal representative and not the heirs. 

If you have concerns about the way the personal representative is handling the estate, talk to a lawyer.

33. How do I get appointed as personal representative?

a. Qualifications:
If you are named in a Will to act as Executor you will be eligible to serve if you are over 18 years old and are not subject to a conservatorship or otherwise unable to perform the duties of a personal representative. 

If you are not named as executor, or if the decedent did not have a Will, you must also be a resident of the U.S. and have priority to be appointed as administrator (if there is no Will) or administrator-with-Will-annexed (if there is a Will but you are not named as executor).
b. Priority for appointment:
If there is no Will, or if the Will does not nominate an executor (or the persons nominated are unable to serve due to death or because they do not want to serve), then persons related to the decedent are entitled to be appointed in the following order.

i. Surviving spouse
ii. Children
iii. Grandchildren
iv. Other issue
v. Parents
vi. Brothers and sisters (including half brothers and sisters, but not stepbrothers and stepsisters – see issue of a predeceased spouse)
vii. Issue of brothers and sisters (nieces and nephews)
viii. Grandparents
ix. Issue of grandparents (aunts and uncles first, then cousins)
x. Children of a predeceased spouse
xi. Other issue of a predeceased spouse
xii. Other next of kin
xiii. Parents of a predeceased spouse
xiv. Issue of parents of a predeceased spouse
xv. Conservator or guardian of the estate acting in that capacity at the time of death who has filed a first account and is not acting as conservator or guardian for any other person
xvi. Public Administrator
xvii. Creditors
xviii. Any other person (neighbors, friends, other non-relatives)
A person who has priority for appointment but does not wish to serve may decline and nominate another person as personal representative. If you wish to be appointed but there are other family members higher in priority, each one of those persons must decline to serve, in writing. A person named as executor may also decline to serve as executor and nominate another person.

34. What are Letters?

This form serves as the oath of office for the personal representative and may be given to anyone who needs proof that you have been appointed as the personal representative and have authority to act on behalf of the estate. Each person to be appointed must sign the form. (If more than one person is to be appointed, both or all of them must sign the same form.) 
Institutions such as banks or title companies generally require certified copies, for which there is an additional fee. Some institutions, such as stock transfer agents, also require that the Letters be submitted within 60 days of the date when they are certified by the Filing Clerk.

35. How do I “prove a will”?



A Will is “proved” and will be admitted to probate if it has been prepared and executed correctly under California law by an adult who at the time of signing had testamentary capacity and was not acting under undue influence. 

General information about the different types of wills is as follows:

a. Attested Wills (also known as Witnessed Wills):
Attested Wills are usually prepared by an attorney, in typewritten form, and are signed in front of at least two disinterested witnesses who are not receiving any gifts under the Will. An attested Will is self-proving if the attestation clause signed by the witnesses contains a statement that the witnesses are signing under penalty of perjury. 

A self-proving Will can be admitted to probate without the testimony of any of the subscribing witnesses. 

A pour-over Will is an attested Will (and may also be self-proving) that is prepared in connection with a revocable Trust and gives all of the decedent’s property that is subject to probate to the trustee of the revocable trust.
b. Holographic Wills:
Holographic Wills are handwritten wills prepared by a Testator in his or her own handwriting. Holographic wills do not have to be signed in front of witnesses or notarized. A holographic Will may be admitted to probate if the testator’s handwriting can be proved by the testimony of at least one witness who was personally acquainted with the testator and has personal knowledge of the testator’s handwriting.
c. Statutory Wills: 
Statutory Wills are fill-in-the-blank, pre-printed wills whose form and content is specifically prescribed under California law. A statutory Will is a form of attested Will that must be signed in front of (at least) two witnesses. It is self-proving because the required declaration under penalty of perjury is included in the printed form.

36. Who should get notice of the Petition for Probate?

Persons entitled to notice:
a. All persons or entities (such as churches or other charities) named in the Will, including each person or corporation nominated as executor, and all persons who would be entitled to inherit as heirs by intestate succession (even if the decedent left a Will) are entitled to receive notice of the Petition for Probate.
b. If a citizen of a foreign country dies without leaving a Will or leaves a Will that does not name an executor, or if it appears from the Will that property will pass to a citizen of a foreign country, then notice must also be given to a recognized diplomatic or consular official of the foreign country, if that official maintains an office in the United States.

37. What happens if an emergency arises before a personal representative is appointed?

Appointment of a Special Administrator:

It generally takes four to six weeks from the time a petition for probate is filed until Letters can be issued to the personal representative. If an emergency situation exists so that appointment is urgently needed before the Petition for Probate can be heard by the Probate Judge, you may file a separate Petition for Letters of Special Administration. Letters of Special Administration are temporary Letters that can be approved by the Probate Judge for a specific purpose on an ex parte basis (without a hearing). 

Typical situations where Letters of Special Administration would be appropriate include where the decedent owned a business and a legal representative must be appointed to run the business and sign payroll checks. Letters of Special Administration could also be issued if the decedent sold real property and opened an escrow but died before the escrow was closed.
A Petition for Letters of Special Administration will not be approved unless a Petition for Probate has also been filed.
Letters of Special Administration are valid only for a limited period of time, generally until the hearing date on the Petition for Probate. During the period when the Letters of Special Administration are in effect, the personal representative will be referred to as a Special Administrator, even though he or she may be nominated in the decedent’s Will as executor.

38. Do I need to file a bond?



A bond is required of all personal representatives to protect interested persons, including beneficiaries and creditors, against the wrongdoing of the personal representative. A bond is not required if the Will waives the bond requirement, or if all beneficiaries sign a waiver of the bond requirement and the written waivers are attached to the Petition for Probate. The court will ordinarily require a non-resident personal representative to file a bond even if the Will waives bond.
If a bond is required, the amount of the bond will be fixed based on the estimated value of the decedent’s personal property, plus the value of the decedent’s real property (if the personal representative is given full authority under the Independent Administration of Estates Act), plus the estimated value of the annual gross income of all of the estate’s property. 

 Bond can be reduced by requesting limited authority (so that real property cannot be sold without a court order), or by agreeing to deposit marketable securities and/or cash not required for estate administration into a blocked account that cannot be withdrawn without a court order.

39. What happens after appointment?



 

a. What must the Personal Representative do after being appointed? 
The three primary responsibilities of a personal representative are:
• Marshal assets, and file an Inventory and Appraisal of the estate assets,
• pay debts, taxes and liabilities of the estate, and
• distribute the remaining assets to the persons entitled to receive them.

b. How do I “Marshal Assets”?
After appointment, the personal representative must take possession, of all of the decedent’s property to be administered as part of the Probate estate.
Personal property: Cash accounts standing in the decedent’s name may be closed and transferred to an estate account in the personal representative’s name. If closing the decedent’s account would trigger early withdrawal penalties, the registration of the account may be changed to the name of personal representative without closing the account.

 Stock certificates and brokerage accounts should also be changed to reflect the change in ownership from the decedent to the personal representative so that dividends and earnings can be correctly reported on behalf of the estate.
Real Property:
 The personal representative must notify the Tax Assessor in the county or counties where the decedent’s real property is located by filing with the Assessor the following forms:

  -Notice of Death of Real Property Owner
-Preliminary Change of Ownership Report
-Claim for Reassessment Exclusion for Transfer between Parent and Child (if the property will pass from parents to child or from grandparent to grandchildren to avoid property tax reassessment)
-Copy of decedent’s death certificate.

c. How do I file the Inventory and Appraisal? 
Within four months after appointment, the personal representative must file with the Court an inventory of the property to be administered as part of the probate action, together with an appraisal of the fair market value of each item of property as of the decedent’s date of death.

Probate referee:
 Probate Referees are qualified appraisers who are appointed by the California State Controller’s Office to act as probate referees for each county. At the time of appointment of the personal representative, the Probate Court designates on the Order for Probate the probate referee to be used in that estate. The probate referee’s fees are set by law as a commission of 1/10 th of 1 percent of the value of the property appraised by the probate referee, with a minimum fee of $75 (representing property having a value of $75,000) and a maximum fee of $10,000 (representing property having a value of $10,000,000).

40. Creditors’ claims 

As Personal Representative, what are my responsibilities towards creditors?

As personal representative, you have a duty to notify both known and reasonably ascertainable creditors of the death of the decedent and that you have been appointed as personal representative. This includes not only creditors with outstanding bills such as doctors, credit card companies and utility companies, but also people who may have a potential claim against the decedent on account of something that happened during the decedent’s lifetime.

 
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