Probating a Will

Probating a will involves the legal process of validating and executing a deceased person’s will. As an experienced Folsom probate lawyer, I have found that individuals often leave behind wills, but not always. The exact procedures for probating a will can vary by jurisdiction, so it’s important to consult with an attorney or the appropriate court in the area where the deceased person lived. Here is a general overview of the steps involved in probating a will:

  1. Petition for Probate:
    • The first step is to file a petition for probate with the court. This document formally requests the court to recognize the validity of the will and appoint an executor (personal representative or administrator in California) to administer the estate. The petition also includes other information, such as information regarding the deceased and their date of death. 
  2. File the Will with the Probate Court:
    • The second step is to file the original will with the probate court in the county where the deceased person lived. This is typically done by the executor named in the will, or by a family member if there is no executor named.
  3. Notify Heirs and Beneficiaries:
    • Notify all heirs and beneficiaries named in the will about the probate proceedings. This is often done through formal notice or publication, depending on local laws and the circumstances surrounding the deceased and their assets.
  4. Inventory and Appraise Assets:
    • The executor is responsible for taking an inventory of the deceased person’s assets and having them appraised. This includes real estate, personal property, bank accounts, investments, and other assets.
  5. Pay Debts and Taxes:
    • The executor must identify and pay any outstanding debts and taxes owed by the deceased person’s estate. This may include funeral expenses, outstanding bills, and any estate or inheritance taxes.
  6. Distribute Assets to Beneficiaries:
    • Once debts and taxes are paid, the remaining assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the will.
  7. Final Accounting and Closing the Estate:
    • The executor provides a final accounting to the court, detailing all financial transactions related to the estate. After the court approves the accounting, the estate can be closed, and the executor is discharged from their duties.
  8. Probate Court Hearings:
    • In some cases, probate proceedings may involve court hearings, especially if there are disputes among heirs or other contested issues. The court will resolve these matters. As a general matter, probate court hearings are not frequent, but when they do occur, lengthy proceedings can ensure. 
    • In California, there are generally three probate hearings. The first one names the executor for the estate, the second one authorizes a distribution plan for the estate assets and the third one closes out the estate.


It’s important to note that the probate process can be complex, and the specific requirements and procedures can vary by jurisdiction. Consulting with a Folsom attorney who specializes in probate law is advisable to ensure that all legal requirements are met and the process is carried out efficiently. Additionally, some estates may qualify for simplified probate procedures, depending on the size of the estate and other factors. If you have any other questions about probating a will, contact Thapar Law at 916-579-0605 or send us a message

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