Probate is a court process for administering an estate. If the decedent has a Will, the Will names an “Executor”, who’s the person who is responsible for administering the estate. If there is no Will, then the California Probate Code identifies who will have priority to be appointed as the “Administrator” of the estate based upon their relationship to the decedent.
Although the Will names an Executor, that person does not have any actual authority over the estate until they have filed a petition and been appointed by the court as the Executor. The probate process is very technical, requiring specific forms to be used, timelines to be followed and specific tasks to be performed, all of which are reviewed by the judge at certain intervals. Notices and copies of documents have to be provided to all the heirs of the decedent and beneficiaries named in his/her Will. Creditors also have to be noticed and given an opportunity to file claims against the estate, and notice of the Probate must be published in the local newspaper.
It is very difficult to navigate through the Probate process without the help and advice of an attorney.