Areas of Practice


The services we offer at Crosby & Crosby in the area of probate involve the following:

Almost every person who dies leaves some property, or interests in property, that must be transferred to his or her family, friends, or charitable organizations. “Probate” is the court-supervised process by which the decedent’s bills are paid and his or her property (e.g., house, bank accounts, brokerage accounts, and tangible personal property) is transferred to his heirs or beneficiaries. This process is initiated by the filing of a Petition for Probate.

Alternatives to Probate

There are alternatives to probate that sometimes eliminate the need, in whole or in part, for probate administration.

  • (a) Estates with personal property not exceeding $100,000 may qualify for a relatively simple procedure under Probate Code sections 13100 – 13115.
  • (b) Probate Code section 330 provides for immediate delivery of a decedent’s tangible property where possession is not disputed.
  • (c) In cases where the total gross value of all of a decedent’s California real property does not exceed $20,000, the successors in interest may obtain title under Probate Code sections 13200 – 13210.
  • (d) Estates with a total gross value of real and personal property in California not exceeding $100,000 may qualify for the filing of a Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property under Probate Code sections 13150 – 13158.
  • (e) Vehicles and certain state-registered property (e.g., mobilehomes, boats, floating homes, etc.) may be transferred to eligible successors by use of forms called DMV Affidavit for Transfer of Vehicle or Vessel Without Probate or Certificate for Transfer Without Probate (Manufactured Homes, Mobilehomes, Etc.).
  • (f) An estate of real and/or personal property not exceeding $20,000 in net value may to set aside to the decedent’s surviving spouse, registered domestic partner, and/or minor children under Probate Code sections 6600 – 6615.
  • (g) Up to $20,000 in personal property of “absent” (missing in action) federal personnel may be set aside to the decedent’s immediate family under Probate Code sections 3701 – 3708.
  • (h) Up to $5,000 in personal property may be transferred upon affidavit to an absentee’s family members under Probate Code sections 3710 – 3712.
  • (i) All property passing to a surviving spouse or to a registered domestic partner through an abbreviated probate process under Probate Code section 13650.
  • (j) A decedent’s surviving spouse or registered domestic partner may immediately collect all employment earnings owed to the decedent under an affidavit procedure pursuant to Probate Code sections 13600 – 13606.

The Probate Process

As soon as letters testamentary or letters of administration are issued to the personal representative must marshall all of the assets of the decedent. These assets are then reported to the court on an inventory and appraised. The decedent’s creditors must file their claim with the personal representative within the 4-month claim-filing period. The personal representative must determine whether any federal estate tax or generation-skipping transfer tax is due and, if so, pay the tax and file an estate tax return (generally 9 months after date of death). During this 9-month period, a variety of tax matters are investigated and, if appropriate, acted upon. These tax matters include, but are not limited to, disclaimers, filing the decedent’s final income tax returns, making special elections involving partnerships, filing the Estate’s income tax returns, and planning for distributions.

We at Crosby & Crosby will advise you concerning sales and dispositions of estate property; borrowing, refinancing, or encumbering estate property; completing decedent’s contracts; the standards with respect to investing the Estate’s funds; and any special problems.

Finally, we will assist you in “winding up” the administration of the decedent’s Estate. This includes preliminary and final distributions; interim and final accountings and reports; compensation for the personal representative and attorney; payment of debts; proration of taxes; and discharge of the personal representative.