When a person dies with a will (“testate”), the decedent’s last will and testament must be authenticated and filed with the court, usually along with the petition for probate. The court appoints the executor to administer the estate. The executor receives a letters testamentary that allows them to act and enter into transactions on behalf of the estate.
When a person dies without a will (“intestate”), a proposed administrator files a petition for probate. The court appoints an administrator who receives a letters of administration that allows them to act and enter into transactions on behalf of the estate.
Role of a Personal Representative in Probate
A personal representative is named in a will (as an “executor”) or appointed by the court (as an “administrator”). The personal representative’s responsibilities are significant and typically include:
- Locate and file the Last Will and Testament
- Locate, inventory, custody, close and transfer personal assets/accounts
- Appraise and value all assets
- Pay debts and expenses associated with end of life
- Make payments to creditors and obtain creditor releases
- Process and receive life insurance death benefits
- Secure personal residence and tangible personal property
- File appropriate tax returns (federal and California) and make appropriate tax decisions
- Pay estate taxes and final personal income taxes
- Obtain tax releases and closing letters from local courts, the IRS and the Franchise Tax Board
- Make specific bequests, as well as partial and final distributions to beneficiaries (including packing and shipping of tangible personal property)
- Provide complete detailed accounting to the local court and estate beneficiaries
As you can see, probating an estate is no easy task. The probate process is complex and can be lengthy if not handled correctly. Mika Domingo is an experienced trust and estates attorney with a passion for helping others. She is your trusted advisor and will help you navigate the probate process to get a favorable result as quickly as possible.
Mika was selected as a Super Lawyer Rising Star, an honor bestowed upon the top 2.5% of attorneys, in 2018 and 2019. She also holds an Avvo “Superb” rating (a perfect 10 out of 10). You won’t find another law firm capable of providing the combination of personalized service and probate expertise at the rates offered by M.S. Domingo Law Group, P.C. We offer a free consultation, and look forward to discussing your situation.