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California Probate

   Probate is the legal process by which a decedent's affairs are concluded and property belonging to the decedent is distributed to those entitled. As an attorney licensed in California, Bruce Thompson can file probate proceedings in all California counties. It is not uncommon for an Oregon resident to be the nominated personal representative or be the next of kin of a decedent who lived in California. In that scenario, the prospective personal representative has a choice, she may select an attorney to represent her where she lives, or select an attorney where the decedent lived.

   In most probates, there is no requirement for either the lawyer or the client to appear in person before the court. Given that scenario, it may make more sense for the personal representative to hire a lawyer closer to where the personal representative lives rather than an attorney who lives a long way away.

   For clients who live in Oregon or SW Washington, our office can represent you.
General Information about probate in California:

   Probate in California is initiated by the filing of a petition. The petition is normally filed by the person nominated as the personal representative in the decedent's will or the decedent's next of kin if there is no will. The proceeding is filed in the Superior Court of the county where the decedent resided. In California, notice of the filing must be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county of filing and notice must be also given to relatives of the decedent and certain others as specified by law.

   The Superior Court probate staff will review the petition for probate for compliance with statute and local procedure. If deficiencies are noted they are corrected.  After any deficiencies are corrected and if no objections are filed the court will either approve the matter without necessity of appearance or will approve the matter after appearance of the lawyer. Such appearances are commonly made by telephone so there is no need for personal appearance by either the personal representative or the lawyer.

   Once the personal representative is appointed, a bond (if ordered) must be arranged. "Letters", which is a document showing that the personal representative has been appointed, are then issued by the court.

   California law places significant restriction on the ability of the personal representative to take cetain actions without court approval unless the personal representative has requested and received powers under the Independent Administration of Estates Act (IAEA). Whether or not these powers are requested is a matter discussed between the personal representative and his attorney when filing the petition for probate.

   It is the job of the personal representative to deal with creditors of the decedent and taxes. The personal representative must also account annually and/ or upon completion to the court and the beneficiaries for the assets of the decedent and all income and expenditures of estate funds.

   Upon completion of probate the personal representative is entitled to compensation for her service as personal representative. The amount of the compensation is set by statute, but the personal representative may also take a lesser amount or waive his fee entirely. Any compensation received by the personal representative must be first approved by the court.

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