Probate is a court supervised process of administering a decedent’s estate after they die. Although probate has become less common with the widespread use of living trusts (a probate is generally unnecessary if the decedent had a living trust), when a probate is necessary, our probate attorneys are experienced and knowledgeable about all aspects of the probate process.
A probate proceeding should be filed in the county where the decedent resided at his or her death. Thus, if the decedent lived in Danville or Walnut Creek at his or her death, the probate would be filed in Contra Costa County, while a probate for a decedent who lived in San Francisco would be filed in San Francisco County.
Probate begins with a pleading called a Petition for Probate and Appointment of a Probate Personal Representative. In this pleading the petitioner (usually the person nominated as the executor in the will, asks the court to appoint them as the personal representative of the estate. The petitioner must send a copy of the petition to all the people named in the will and all the decedent’s heirs. If there are no objections from the beneficiaries, the person nominated by the decedent is usually appointed as executor at the first hearing. Once the order appointing the executor is signed, the order is filed with the clerk and the clerk issues the executor documents called “Letters of Administration.” These court-certified documents grant the executor the power to act. Unless the will states that a bond is not required, the executor must obtain a bond and file it with the clerk before letters are issued.