When a person dies with over $100,000 or more of assets in their individual name, the primary function of the probate court proceeding is to administer the deceased person’s fiscal estate.

In many ways, this probate proceeding is for the protection of creditors of the estate, as it includes various mechanisms for notice to creditors, and for payment of outstanding debts and taxes. After the court has been assured that all legitimate debts have been paid, title to the remainder of the decedent's estate is transferred to the decedent's heirs.

Where a person dies without a will, the property will pass down their bloodlines to their heirs at law.

It is a common misconception that property of a decedent will pass to the State (“escheat”) if there is no will. However, an escheat is rare and only occurs when no heirs at law exist or can be found.

Where a person dies with a will, the court must first accept the document as the person's will, a process called "proving a will." After which, the decedent's property will be administered in accordance with, and distributed to the heirs identified in, the will.

When a person dies, often a mortgage and other bills need to be paid, and family is uncertain as to what happens next. An attorney can help answer some of these basic questions. Call the attorneys at Sundeen & Salinas for a free consultation.

If you have a question about your legal rights, or wish to speak to an attorney about your situation, please call us today at 510-663-9240, or contact us online to discuss your legal rights.