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Estate Planning: Probate Explained

When an individual has passed and left valuable assets to those designated in his or her will, the distribution of assets to their rightful inheritors usually cannot be executed until the probate process has been completed.

The Probate Process

This process involves the Probate Court evaluating the legality of the transfer of assets. The “executor” is the person who possesses authority over the transfer and distribution of assets. The executor must perform the following tasks:

  • Prove the will’s authenticity
  • Get the court’s approval on behalf of the estate
  • Make an inventory of the decedent’s assets
  • Appraise the decedent’s assets
  • Fulfill decedent’s debts/taxes
  • Distribute the assets according to the wishes of the decedent

Probate Period Length

Generally, the probate process takes no less than half a year, no more than a year. If the probate process goes on for more than a year, an estate tax return and a status report must be submitted by the executor. The probate process may be prolonged due to the following circumstances:

  • A will contest
  • Replacement of executor
  • Complex estate
  • Large number or value of estate assets
  • Beneficiaries difficult to locate


Although most probate cases are processed without dispute, some are contested and lead to heated litigation, especially those involving highly valued assets. The probate process can really get prolonged and stressful when a large number of potential heirs are disputing over valuable assets. Only an effective and knowledgeable probate litigation attorney can help make litigation smoother for everyone involved and bring about a resolution that leaves family and other relations intact.

Contact a California Probate Lawyer

The Irvine probate law firm of McFarlin LLP has provided dedicated legal representation to many clients in the past, and with great success. If you are seeking an attorney who can help you attain the assets that are rightfully yours, call our office today at (888) 728-0044.