When is probate needed in California?

California has a probate process similar to many other states, but before we go any further, let’s ask an important question: Do you even need to probate the estate?

Not all assets go through probate. Assets that automatically transfer to another person without a court order will avoid probate.

See: What assets go through probate?

Generally, joint accounts and accounts or assets with beneficiary designations (e.g. life insurance and retirement accounts) will avoid probate. A properly funded revocable trust will also avoid probate.

See: When is probate not necessary?

Don’t worry, though. You can still probate a Will or estate without an attorney, and you can still go through probate in California even if there is no Will.

If there is a Will, the person in charge of the probate is the person named as executor in the Will. Sometimes, however, that person is unable, or unwilling to serve as executor. When that happens, the next executor in the Will (i.e. the successor executor) can serve. If there are no successors, then the beneficiaries under the Will must appoint someone, or go to court if they cannot agree.

If there is no Will, then the heirs at law (e.g. children, surviving spouse, siblings) must agree and appoint someone to serve over the probate estate. The person appointed must consent to serve.

See: Intestate Succession - How to probate when there is no will

The first step towards getting probate in California opened is completing our online intake form. If you have already started, you can always go back and finish it.


How to do probate in California

Probate in California is needed when someone dies with assets in their single name, whether they have a will or not. Full court probate (court supervised) is required in CA when the total assets of the estate are greater than $166,250.  CA offers a simpler process when the assets are under $166,250 and if there is no real estate no court involvement is needed.

See: What is the probate process?

California’s full probate process does require official court hearings, however most estates qualify for independent authority and you only report to the court at the end of probate your actions.  Note that in order to sell real estate, a Notice of Proposed Action will be needed.

At EZ-Probate, we can walk you through every detail of the California probate laws and overall process. We’ll be with you until probate is over.