You Live in Another Country – Why California Probate?
The state of California’s laws require the probate court to oversee distributions of real estate located in California to heirs. In addition, the estates of people who died in California or had other assets in California may need to go through probate court.
Expats’ estates usually need to use California probate court because the expats owned California real estate. If they owned stocks or bank accounts in the U.S. too, California may be the most convenient U.S. place to get the estate probated. It does not matter in most cases whether an expat is a U.S. citizen or a non-citizen.
How Does California Probate Work?
When someone was an expat and owns assets both in California and in another country, the probate proceeding could begin in either location. If the probate starts in another country, the expat’s executor or estate administrator may need to open an “ancillary” proceeding in California probate court. This proceeding will allow the administrator to distribute the California property. If the probate starts in California, then the administrator may need an ancillary proceeding in the other country, depending on the laws.
During California probate, the executor or administrator accomplishes a number of tasks under a judge’s supervision:
- Locating the will
- Locating all assets
- Determining the assets’ value, with the help of experts
- Distributing the assets to the heirs in accordance with the will
If disputes arise along the way, the judge will resolve the disputes according to California law. Sometimes, conflicting laws in other countries or arguments between heirs make probate complicated. The court does its best to fairly settle the issues and get the estate distributed efficiently.
Planning your estate? Look to Janet Brewer, Esq. for thorough and thoughtful estate planning advice. Janet’s more than 20 years of legal experience will give you confidence and peace of mind. To schedule a “Get Acquainted” meeting, visit Janet's website or call her office at (650) 469-8206.