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Q. What is the difference between an executor and an administrator?

A: An “executor” carries out the directions and requests set forth in the decedent’s will. An “administrator” is appointed by the court to manage the estate of a decedent who dies intestate.

Q: What are the steps to a normal uncontested probate?

A: Typically, they are as follows:

  1. Death of the decedent.
  2. The will is delivered to the executor or Court Clerk.
  3. A petition is filed for the Probate of Will or Letters of Administration.
  4. A hearing is held on the petition.
  5. Letters of Administration are issued by the Court.
  6. Notice to creditors is given.
  7. Inventory and appraisement of the estate is made by an independent probate appraiser.
  8. Federal estate tax return is filed. Return states “No Tax Due” or specifies an amount due.
  9. Final accounting and petition for distribution.
  10. Final decree of distribution.
  11. Discharge of personal representative.

Q: While real property is “in probate,” can it be sold?

A: Yes. It can be sold either at private sale, in which the executor of the estate negotiates a transaction with a buyer, or at public sale in which the property is sold at public auction.

Q. If there is no will, how is the property of the estate distributed?

A: Sections 6400 through 6414 of the California Probate Code addresses intestate succession and the distributions. The method and manner of intestate distributions is quite complex and therefore one should specifically discuss intestate distributions with his or her legal advisor.