What Is Probate?

Probate is the Court-supervised procedure for transferring assets of a decedent to those persons entitled to receive those assets. During the probate procedure, debts of the decedent are paid from the estate assets. If there is a Will, the named beneficiaries will receive those assets. The person designated in the Will is generally appointed Executor. The Executor, working through Court procedures, supervises the payments of the decedent's debts from estate assets, arranges for sale of estate assets as appropriate, and supervises distribution of the estate assets in accordance with the Court Orders. If the Will designates the Executor is to serve without bond (surety bond), the Court will normally not require a surety bond, unless the Executor resides outside of the State of California. If there is no Will, the legal heirs at law, as identified by the California Probate Code Laws of Intestate Succession, will be the beneficiaries. A person, frequently one of the heirs, applies to the Court for appointment as personal representative (Administrator) of the estate. Normally, a surety bond is required to be furnished on behalf of an Administrator. The amount of the surety bond is based upon the assets of the estate. To a great extent, the remainder of the probate procedure is similar to that required if decedent had a Will, as stated above.