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Probate concepts can be intimidating for many in California

Those who may be just beginning to think about their estate planning needs may be overwhelmed with all of the technicalities involved. For example, one of the first terms that a person often hears when researching how to plan an estate is "probate," and many find the thought of the probate process daunting; however, it does not have to be. Many in California may be wondering exactly what probate is and precisely what the probate process entails.

Despite the seemingly complicated terms, the meanings of these terms are not that complicated. For example, one commonly used term in estate planning is "decedent." Basically, this term simply refers to the person who has died. This person's estate is the subject of probate proceedings.

The term "domicile" refers to the primary location of residence of the decedent. This is used to establish the proper court venue for probate proceedings. Also, it is important to understand the term "estate," which simply refers to the property or assets owned by the decedent when he or she died. A "personal representative" is the individual or entity with authority to legally administer the estate of the decedent.

Although important, simply knowing related vocabulary is only the beginning of understanding the probate process in California. Although some of the basic concepts of probate are easy to grasp, actually applying the law to a specific probate case may not be straightforward in many instances. Therefore, it is a good idea to obtain comprehensive knowledge of applicable rules and regulations in order to successfully navigate the probate process.

Source:, "Probate Demystified", David H. Lenok, Sept. 28, 2015

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