Chapter 7 – The nuts and bolts of a California probate
As mentioned above I like to remind people that “probate is 7 months minimum so the quicker you start it the quicker you will be done.” As I write this book I contemplate a recent case. I was hired by a beneficiary to monitor a probate case. I have been in constant contact with the other attorney. He has been in slow, but steady, contact back to me. He has had a string of reasons for delay. As I type this I can say, with strong confidence, I would have filed this probate at least six weeks ago had the person hired me to do the probate and not this other attorney. However, that wasn’t to be. I represent the beneficiary. Since the other person is named executor in the will we need to sit back, at least for a while, and let them try to do the probate. Watching it has been painful. However, watching it has also reaffirmed in me that I am different, that I run my law practice different, and that what I do can be duplicated by others with some practice. Even if you might only do one probate if you read this book carefully your experience should be much improved over the possibilities!
As stated above I often file a probate the same day I am contacted. This is true. Try me. After you finish reading this sentence go to californiaprobate.info, send me a brief email about your case, and I should make contact back within 2 hours if it’s during normal business hours. If your facts are right we can prepare the documents, sign them, and file them TODAY. I can do this no matter where you are in the country and no matter what courthouse in California. However, of course, call me before noon when possible! It gives us a much better chance of doing it today! Otherwise, within 24 hours is completely reasonable. That is, if things are going right the potential client will contact me by noon, I will have rough drafts of the initial probate documents emailed to them by 2:00, they will print, sign and fax or email back, and then I will fax file in the court the same day! The fax filing cut off is different for different counties and thus, in some instances, it won’t be filed until the next day. However, this is really easy if your law office is efficient. Let me emphasize this can be just about every single county in California.
[INSERT TIMELINE OR GRAPHIC FOR SAME DAY FILING]
The initial package of documents that we send to clients typically have the following documents:
1) Written fee agreement
2) Petition for probate (JC Form #____ )
3) Duties and Liabilities (JC Form #___ )
4) Confidential supplement to duties and liabilities (JC Form #____ )
5) Letters (JC Form #____ )
6) Bond waivers if applicable (attorney created form)
Typically within one week I will do a second round of documents. This will include:
1) Declaration related to liabilities and creditors if required by local rules (attorney created form)
2) Bond and bond application if likely to be required (forms from the bonding company)
3) Supplement to the petition if new information has been obtained or it’s determined the court might want more information (attorney created form)
The above documents can not be created without information from the client. After having a meeting with the client the basics are ascertained. This includes all of the information shown on exhibit __ which is our probate questionnaire. I should clarify for our office that sometimes the initial meeting is by phone, Skype, Zoom, email, or other means. Basically it’s necessary that I get information from the client. While I love face to face meetings my main focus is getting your probate case going. Thus, if you live in Spokane and need to probate your dad’s estate who died in Carmichael let’s start on the phone and email. Waiting for you to come to Sacramento will create unnecessary delay.