Probate is a court proceeding which provides for the transfer of a person’s assets to his/her heirs after their death.   A probate is necessary for this transfer unless the entire estate is valued at less than $100,000.  There are several non-probate alternatives for administering small estates.   Where a person has a will or has left no will, then a probate is necessary unless the assets are already in trust.  See the “Trusts” page for information about the formation and administration of trusts.   I have done many probates over the years and am familiar with the local probate courts as well as others all over Northern California.  The personal representative’s duty is to gather the assets, have them appraised, pay the debts and then distribute the assets.   I can assist you in the orderly gathering, appraisal and distribution of the assets which normally gets the probate closed in the statutory minimum time.  Estate attorneys are paid a statutory percentage of the value of the assets of the estate.