Probate Law

1. Duties Of Personal Representative
2. Steps Prior To Formal Administration Of Estate
3. Claims Against Estate
4. Estate Inventory, Appraisal And Record Keeping
5. Estate Taxes
6. Estate Expenses And Compensation
7. Estate Allowances And Distributions
8. Conclusion

Return to: Introduction to the Process of Probate


Section 2 - Steps Prior To Formal Administration Of Estate

Technically, the administration of a decedent's estate does not begin until the will, if any, has been admitted to probate by the Superior Court and Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration have been issued. However, prior to the appointment of a personal representative, the decedent's family, the nominated executor, and/or other concerned persons should take the necessary steps to:

  1. Determine and carry out the decedent's wishes with respect to funeral, burial, cremation, etc.
  2. Locate the original will.
  3. Maintain the decedent's home.
  4. Protect the decedent's property.
  5. Provide for support of the decedent's dependents.
  6. Notify the State Director of Health Services if the decedent was receiving Medi-Cal benefits.
  7. Notify Social Security and/or pension administrators, if applicable.
  8. The circumstances of each decedent will vary widely, and temporary needs will be met differently in each case. There are usually alternative solutions for special problems and temporary difficulties that may exist during the period between death and the court's appointment of a personal representative. We are available to discuss any such problems or difficulties that may arise and will be happy to provide assistance and guidance.

Issuance of Letters Testamentary/Letters of Administration

Within thirty (30) days after a decedent's death, the person who has custody of his or her will must file it with the County Clerk in the county of the decedent's residence and send a copy to the named executor. The person named as executor or some other interested person must then file a petition with the Superior Court asking that the will and any codicils (amendments) to the will be admitted to probate as the decedent's will. The petition also asks that the court appoint the person named in the will (if appropriate) or some other person as executor. When the appointment is made, Letters Testamentary are issued.

If there is no will, the petition for probate asks that the court appoint the petitioner or some other person as administrator of the estate. When the appointment is made, Letters of Administration are issued.

We will prepare the will for filing. We will also prepare the Petition for probate for your signature as soon as we have the necessary information.

The document called "Letters Testamentary" or "Letters of Administration" is a certificate by the County Clerk evidencing your appointment and authority as personal representative. During the administration of the estate, certified copies of the Letters may be requested by banks, title companies, transfer agents, tax authorities and others. We will obtain certified copies of the Letters for use when they are needed.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.

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