The prior attorney offers sound advice. Probate covers assets not disposed of by other means. So beneficiary designated property like life insurance or retirement plans or jointly owned property are not part of probate.
Do not do this on your own; get with an estates attorney. For a sense of what is involved in administering an estate in most states, please see the following two articles: Estate & Probate Administration: Do Not Try This On Your Own at http://www.sjfpc.com/page1.html and Pennsylvania Probate & Estate Administration: Executor Duties at http://www.sjfpc.com/pennsylvania_probate_estate__administration_duties_of_executor_and_administrator.html
Hope this helps.
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An account held in joint names typically is presumed to go to the surviving owner. Check with the institution to determine what the contract for that account provides.
Generally, only the decedent's assets that do not pass to others by contract or by right of survivorship, are to be included on the inventory and appraisal for probate purposes.
If you are receiving mixed advise on this, that suggests that there may be some further complications. You should consider consulting with a probate attorney in your jurisdiction.
This general response is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship.
If this is a joint tenancy with right of survivorship account, it should not be included in the inventory of the probate estate as a general rule.
If the account is set up differently, as a tenancy in common, for example, or you are merely a power of attorney on the account, then the account (or some part of it) will be considered part of the probate estate in California.