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Can you Administer an Estate if you Live Outside California?

The answer is Yes, absolutely.

Our firm represents Administrators and Executors who live outside of California all the time.

Our Estate Administrators (also called Executors) live all over the country in fact – Pennsylvania, Florida, Oregon, New Jersey, New York, Indiana, and so forth. Many of them also don’t have the time to travel to California on a regular basis to manage the estate assets. The good news for out of state administrators is that with the right help from a California Attorney and a great real estate agent, everything can be managed remotely.

Who is the typical Estate Administrator our firm represents?

Quick definition check here – by “Estate Administrator” we are referring to the Personal Representative of an Estate in California that is going through the Court Probate Process. If an individual passes away with more than $184,500 in California, his or her estate must go through the Court’s probate process and the Court must name an Administrator. If there was a will, the Administrator is referred to as the ever familiar term “Executor.”

Thus, if a probate must be opened in California, the individual most frequently appointed Administrator by the Court is a family member such as a sibling of the decedent, or child. However, when a California resident passes away with no children, grandchildren, parents, or siblings (or spouse), the Administrator might be a niece, nephew, or cousin.

For example, here’s an overview of what occurred in a probate estate we recently closed:

Two brothers who lived on the East Coast lost their 3rd brother, a resident of Walnut Creek, California. The 3rd brother had no spouse or children, nor did he have a trust, so his siblings were both the heirs to the estate as well as the ones who had “priority” to be Administrator under the California probate Code. They chose to be “Co-Administrators” of his estate.

The estate consisted of a home in Walnut Creek, a car, several bank accounts, and a retirement account with no beneficiary. Often, retirement accounts have a beneficiary and thus do not need to go through probate – and sometimes, bank accounts will also have a beneficiary. In this case, there were no beneficiary listings on the IRA accounts and the bank accounts. So, all of the assets had to go through probate in Contra Costa County, where the decedent was a resident.

The brothers on the east coast were busy with their own lives and families and couldn’t come to California more than necessary. In fact, they successfully made just one trip to California at the beginning of the process. After their initial visit, the home sale was coordinated completely by a trusted local realtor, the car was sold to a friend who lived locally, and the bank accounts were transferred by east coast branches. As their attorneys, we could represent them locally in the courts and take care of all legal matters on their behalf.

Working together, we were able swiftly to close their probate out and transfer the estate funds to the brothers.

Now, not all probates are so smooth – Administrators certainly do run into issues if there are tenants living in properties, disagreements between beneficiaries, a property buyout, an existing conservatorship – and so forth. But as experts in the probate courts of our surrounding counties, we are 100% focused on making the probate process as smooth and seamless as possible for our out of state clients.

For questions or assistance with an estate in the San Francisco Bay Area – including Contra Costa County, Santa Clara County, Alameda County, San Mateo County, Marin County, Napa County, and San Francisco County, contact our Probate Law Team at 925-322-1795.

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