William Sweeney

For many reasons, including the avoidance of long winters and the beauty and climate of California, many Canadians own property (real or personal) in California. Canadians who own property in California are inadvertently bound by California probate law.

If a non-resident of California owns real estate in California in their own name upon the death of that person an "ancillary probate" or "ancillary administration" will be required under California law. The result is often cumbersome, dealing with a jurisdiction far away from the decedent's family who are likely located in Canada, and paying attorney's fees that can be high in settling the estate.

Please refer to my articles at and at

Hopefully, the decedent will have at least had a Will (probably back in Canada). If so, if the will has been admitted in probate in Canada it may be accepted by a California court. However, there are specific legal requirements for a valid Will in California. If those requirements are not met the Will may not be admitted to probate in California. Each case must be evaluated on its own merits to determine if the Will can be admitted in a California court under California law. If the Will is not admissible the probate estate property in California will likely be distributed to lawful heirs under the California's law of "intestate succession."

For more detailed information on intestate succession please see my article at:

How Much Does California Probate Cost?

The probate fees are regulated. The ordinary probate fees run around 2% to 4% of the value the property being probated in the California courts (generally the value of the California real estate at death). But extraordinary fees may also apply. Extraordinary fees for what? The fees for preparation of the estate tax return and treaty analysis, for example, are not ordinary fees (subject to regulated rates).

How Long Does Probate Take in California?

It can take a while, certainly plan on approximately 9 months to a year.

If you are trying to probate an estate in California (real property or personal property) owned by a Canadian resident the process can be confusing. In the process you may not know what to do. That is where I can be of help. I make a difficult and bewildering probate or trust administration process as simple as possible. If you wish to gain more information on California probate procedures or if you need the general assistance of a probate lawyer, please contact me for a free consultation. I will spend time with you to answer your questions.

I assist clients in all California counties, including Southern California counties, such as Imperial County, Los Angeles County, Orange County, San Bernardino County and San Diego County. You can reach me by phone at 760-989-4820, by email at [email protected] or through my online contact form.