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By: Scott Grossman on August 5th, 2016

When Property Is Distributed Outside of California Probate Estate

Understanding your rights as a beneficiary or heir under the California probate code can be confusing. Sometimes, friends or family of a decedent are upset to find some assets are omitted in the decedent’s probate estate. Being the beneficiary the probate does not necessarily guarantee all property owned by the decedent will pass through probate. If you suspect that an executor, administrator, or personal representative is distributing property outside of probate that you may be entitled to, you must contact an experienced Riverside trust lawyer for guidance.

What is “probate estate?”

In California, the “probate estate” means all property subject to the authority of the probate court. Examples of assets that might not be part of the probate estate include:

  • Life insurance policies
  • Retirement benefits
  • Property held in trust
  • Property that is owned by another individual who is still living and has a right of survivorship
  • Assets that have beneficiary designations

For example, if your loved one passed away owning any of these assets and properly named a beneficiary or co-owner before he or she died, the property may be distributed outside of probate. The result is that, while you may be the sole beneficiary of the probate estate. And you might not be entitled to any of the property that passed outside of probate. It depends on who owned that property with the decedent or who the decedent named as the beneficiary after his or her passing.

It is important to consult with an experienced legal professional before taking any action against an executor, administrator, or personal representative. That is because these laws are complex and not always black and white. You may have a claim if he or she distributed property improperly outside of probate.

Need more information?

If you would still like some more information, check out our comprehensive overview of California Probate Litigation, available on our website. And if you have questions about the probate process and what you should know moving forward, please call us at (951) 683-3704 or fill out our Get Help Now form.