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If a loved one dies outside of California, can I start the probate process in California?

On Behalf of | Jun 29, 2023 | Probate |

In recent years, we have seen Californians moving all across the country for a variety of reasons, deciding to live in a new state. Now a friend, one of your siblings, your parents, or other loved one has moved outside of California, with their California estate planning documents intact. You are named as successor trustee in their trust and/or as the executor in their will. You may be wondering, or want to know, that if your loved one dies in their new home state, will you have to travel there and go through the trust administration and/or probate administration in their new home state? Or is it possible to have the probate process started in a California court?

The Property Requirement

The first step is to determine if the deceased owned any property in California that would require probate. For example, real property with an appraised fair market value of $184,500 or more will need to be probated. If the decedent sold his or her California home prior to the move to another state, and if there are insignificant assets in California, then most likely a probate proceeding will not need to be initiated in California.

If you are unsure whether or not a probate will have to be opened in California, it is best to seek legal consultation with a probate attorney to determine whether it satisfies the statutory requirements.

The Probate Petition

If the deceased’s property is over $184,500 and the assets are not held in trust, bringing a probate petition  in front of the court is likely appropriate. You would hire a probate  attorney and file a petition in the appropriate court requesting that the probate process begin and you are appointed administrator, or executor if there is a will that names you.

Other Probate Requirements

If you succeed in obtaining California jurisdiction for the probate of your loved one’s estate, there are a few other important things for you to keep in mind. If your loved one lived in another state for some time, it’s likely that they have significant assets in the new home state. You may contact an attorney in the decedent’s home state first to find out whether you will have to file an ancillary probate in California. If yes, a California probate attorney will assist you in handling the ancillary probate.