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What to Do When a Loved one Passes Away in CA without a Trust

California Probate Administrator and Executor Checklist

When a loved one passes away, it can be devastating and often overwhelming. If the person lived in California and had no estate planning documents, family members often feel lost as to how to proceed when it comes to handling the loved one’s assets. There are seemingly endless items that need to be dealt with – from the sale of a home to the payment of day to day bills.

The first step is to determine if the assets need to go through probate. Generally, if there is no Trust, no beneficiary listing, and the value exceeds $184,500, probate is necessary in California.

Our role as probate attorneys is to alleviate the stress associated with managing and distributing a loved one’s assets. Our goal is for clients to feel supported and confident in the management of their loved one’s estate.

While there are numerous legal tasks that we as attorneys complete on behalf of the administrators and executors we represent, our clients often want to know what they can get started on.

So, we thought we’d share our Checklist with others, too.  

Estate Administration Checklist for Executors & Administrators

  1. Assets: Locate and marshal all assets. This may include bank accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, stocks, real estate, valuable personal property such as cars.

  2. Mail: Collect and forward Mail.

  3. Debtors: determine what money is owed by checking mail and email if available; locating all bills; and pulling a credit report if necessary.

  4. Estate Bank Account: Once the estate has been opened and you have obtained “Letters” from the Court and an EIN (generally from your attorney), open an Estate bank account.

  5. Taxes: Hire a CPA to confirm if prior taxes were paid, what expected taxes will be, and to prepare the final estate tax return.

  6. Date of Death Valuations: Determine the date of death valuations of all assets, including bank accounts and real property.

  7. Find a Realtor: Engage a realtor if necessary to sell a property/properties. Your attorney can help find someone who is knowledgeable and experienced with probate sales.


To get started on a Probate in California, call our office for a consultation at 925-322-1795 or contact us here.

To learn more about Probate, read our Guide to Probate in California.


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