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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS > Estate Planning Questions & Answers > WHAT IS PROBATE?

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The public, court imposed legal process of protecting creditors, changing title and managing assets for people who have died or become incapable of managing for themselves. 

Since deceased or incapacitated persons are legally incapable of owning or transferring property, the probate court protects creditors and arranges for transferring a decedent’s or ward's property. 

In California, the probate process takes between 9 months and 2 years—if it is not contested, and probate costs and fees average between 3% to 5% of the total value of the estate.  Owning property in another state will require multiple probates.