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The Probate Process

The probate process in California involves several steps, including:

  1. Filing a petition for probate with the superior court in the county where the deceased resided

  2. Publishing a notice of hearing in a newspaper of general circulation in the city where the deceased resided

  3. Holding a first probate hearing to examine and verify the will's validity and appoint an executor

  4. Posting a bond

  5. Proving the will

  6. Collecting assets

  7. Designating a probate referee

  8. Paying creditors

  9. Appraising assets

  10. Paying debts and taxes

  11. Distributing assets to beneficiaries 


The probate process can take at least four months, but typically takes 12 to 18 months, and can take even longer for large or complex estates. California law requires that probate be completed within one year of the court appointing an executor or administrator.

The probate process can be triggered if the deceased person's property is worth more than $184,500, or if the assets do not qualify for a simple transfer process. Dying without a will adds steps to the process, as the local court will need to assign an estate administrator to oversee the estate and locate potential heirs. 

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