Long continuance in this California probate Court

Today is September 27, 2018.  I had a hearing on a petition captioned as:




This was filed under California probate code section 12251. This essentially was a probate that turned out to not be required. It was originally filed a couple years back as the decedent may have been damaged by the pharmaceutical ACTOS and thus his family, or his estate, may have a right to a claim. I was hired in this, and many other similar cases, to begin the probate process as the ACTOS lawsuit required letters to be issued by the California probate court in each case.

In the end this decedent did not qualify for money requiring a probate and thus we are filing to close the probate as a zero asset estate. That is, there is no money in the probate so there is no need to complete the probate.

I have filed this exact same petition in several other counties. Of course that’s not an argument you can use with a Judge. I do find it funny that several other Judges, in bigger counties, felt the document was just fine as filed… but I digress.

I do not want to say which court as it’s my opinion the calendar notes were not needed and the Judge should have allowed the petition.  Let me be clear I am not saying the Court was wrong but rather I think it could have easily been solved today and the books cleared of this one case.  However, I am not the Judge so doesn’t matter what I think.  Let’s just say this took place somewhere in the heartland of California: Fresno, Tulare, Kern, Stanislaus, San Joaquin, etc…. It was in one of those counties in the middle somewhere.

So our hearing was today, 9/27/18, and our continuance date to remedy the problems is 2/14/19.  That is 4.5 months away!  Happy Valentines Day to me! It really doesn’t “matter” to me or my client as I am not getting paid at this point. I am just trying to end this case since there is no asset. Plus, I do imagine the widow of the guy that died is tired of this case dragging on. She probably thought she would get a decent amount of money from the lawsuit, as the pharmaceutical lawyers may have told her, and that didn’t happen. A bummer for sure and an extra bummer to be reminded of it by the ongoing probate.

For those who care about the details the probate court’s tentative comments, posted before hearing, were:

“NOT READY FOR HEARING – Petition for termination of proceedings and discharge of personal representative [PC 12251] NOTES- 1. Need further allegation per PC 9202(b) re an heir or beneficiary having PREVIOUSLY been confined. 2. Need allegation re after-discovered property/omnibus clause”

Let’s break these two items down.

  1. They want further allegation regarding the possibility that an heir or beneficiary was not previously confined to a California state jail which would cause restitution to have to be paid. Funny thing I used the exact same paragraph I have used hundreds of times but I will refine it going forward to make sure it speaks to previously confined. I already said there are no assets so I am not sure why it matters but they want it!
  2. They want an “omnibus clause” which is the clause that says if there are assets discovered in the future they should be transferred to a specific person.  I get it. The Court is trying to simplify things in case there are future assets.  It’s not a big deal. It won’t happen but if the Court feels that is right then they should just add it in to the order. It’s a very minor issue.

My point on #2 is I would rather skip it as there are no assets and thus #1 becomes irrelevant also.  If 1 and 2 are both irrelevant then you can end the probate today and get it off your books. Courts are backed up and thus, at least this court, is continuing matters 4.5 months, so let’s clear the books and allow other cases to not be delayed 4.5 months to remedy a very minor procedural issue. It would seem a lot simpler to just work to END matters now rather than clog the system which thus causes 4.5 month delays for people.




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