California Probate Estate

Administration of the Estate


After the testator has died, any interested person may apply to the court for the estate to be administered. The petition may request:

  • That a personal representative be appointed; and/or
  • That the California Will be admitted to probate. 8000

Time Limits

The executor named in the California Last Will and Testament must petition the court for administration within 30 days of finding out about the death and that he/she has been named as executor. Failing this, he/she may be deemed to have waived the right to appointment as personal representative. 8001

The hearing is set for a date between 15 and 30 days after filing of the petition. 8003

Granting Probate

At the hearing, the court will hear and examine evidence from witnesses. Once the court is satisfied with the proof of the California Will and other necessary matters, it may grant an order admitting the Will to probate and appointing a personal representative. 8006

Estates worth less than $20,000

If the deceased’s personal property and real estate located in California do not exceed $20,000 then a petition may be filed asking the court to set aside the estate for the spouse and minor children. 6602

The petition may be filed by various persons including the executor named in the California Will, the surviving spouse, the guardian of a minor child, a child who was a minor at the time of the death or the personal representative (if one has been appointed). 6606

California Estate Tax

In California, estate and inheritance tax is administered by the State Controller’s Office, Bureau of Tax Administration. The state death tax credit has been phased out. A California Estate Tax return is no longer required to be filed for estates where the deceased died on or after January 1, 2005.

Holographic Wills in California

If a California Will does not comply with the formal witnessing requirements, then it may be valid as a Holographic Will if the material provisions and signature are in the testator’s handwriting. It also needs to include the date of execution. 6111

It is never advisable to rely on holographic wills as your Last Will and Testament. Wills that do not comply with the formal requirements are harder to probate and may even be held invalid.

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