Opening probate to distribute a loved one’s assets can be a complicated process. If all of the deceased assets are located in a single state such as California, the process is easier, but even in then, you may have to decide which county court system the probate case should go through if you loved one owned property in several different counties. Here is what you need to know.
Understanding tangible and intangible assets
Before talking about where to open probate, you should know the difference between tangible and intangible and how this plays into probate/estate administration. Tangible property is something you can touch. Intangible property consists of ideas, patents, copyrights, bank and investment accounts, although some states consider financial accounts to be tangible property. Usually, you’ll open probate in the California county where your loved one lived at the time of death.
Probate involving property in multiple states
If your loved one owned tangible property such as real estate in more than one state, you’d generally open probate in the state where the property is located. You can open probate for movable tangible property like jewelry and intangible property owned in another by going to court in the county where the decedent lived.
Navigating probate administration
Knowing what to do regarding probate/estate administration can be confusing if your loved one didn’t leave explicit instructions. You can avoid these problems for your own assets if you set up a living trust, which completely bypasses the need for probate.
If you need to open probate for a loved one’s estate and are confused about the process, working with an experienced estate attorney may help. You may find the process easier and faster when you know how and where to file your case.