If the decedent passed away with a valid Will they are considered to have died testate. So long as the decedent also passed with a Trust, and all of their property has been funded into the name of the Trust, a Probate case many not be necessary, and the Will would just need to be lodged with the Court in the county where the decedent lived. Within the Will is a named Executor(s), whose job is to carry out the wishes of the decedent. The Executor’s powers include selling property, making distributions to heirs, and paying debts. There can also be very specific wishes of the decedent such as who will take care of their animals, who will inherit a family heirloom or who will not inherit anything at all.
If the decedent’s estate is valued at more than $150,000 and they die without a Trust, the Will needs to be lodged with the Court, a Petition for Probate will need to be filed and a Probate case will be opened. Often times the named Executor will become the Administrator of the Estate unless, for example, they do not want to become the Administrator. In that case, a waiver will need to be signed that waives the Executor’s right to become the Administrator and a new Executor will be appointed by the Court. The California Probate Code allows for any interested person to file the Petition for Probate and ask to become the Administrator. No one can act as the Administrator of the Estate until the Order for Probate has been signed by the Judge.
Once the Probate case is opened and the Administrator appointed, the Administrator will begin working closely with the probate attorney to manage the estate by liquidating any assets, distributing any property and paying any debts.