When should you file a final petition in a California probate case? By final petition I mean an “accounting” or “report” of the administrator, executor or personal representative.
In our office this is typically called a “FIRST AND FINAL REPORT OF PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE ON WAIVER OF ACCOUNTING AND PETITION FOR ITS SETTLEMENT, FOR WAIVER OF COMPENSATION TO PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE, FEES TO THE ATTORNEY AND FOR FINAL DISTRIBUTION.” When you break it down you see the document name is several things. It is:
– The first (though sometimes second or third if it’s an old case);
– It’s a report;
– It might be an “accounting” or a “waiver of accounting;”
– It might seek compensation for the PR or waive such compensation;
– There will likely be attorney fees unless you are a really close relative but that’s not likely as my close relatives all have living trusts which would avoid proabte;
– Lastly, it seeks final distribution (i.e. CUT THE CHECKS or SHOW ME THE MONEY!).
The question of when to file is really a question of when does your attorney start working on the final petition. That is, a case can’t be filed until the attorney prepares the petition! This came to mind this morning as we are finalizing a final petition in a complex probate case. Why today?
The general rule is that a final petition can be filed in Court four months after letters are issued by the Court. So does your attorney start working on the final petition at or after that four month date or do they start working on the final petition BEFORE that four month date? On my cases I try to start working on the final petition three months after the date letters first issued. That gives me a month to work with my client to get the petition done so we can file on-time. This does not work in all cases for a variety of reasons. Like the case today for example.
The case we are working to finalize today started over two years ago. It’s still in probate as there was litigation, tax problems that needed to be cleared up in probate, creditor issues, and a short sale of “upside down” real estate. The short sale should close out next month. We have framed up this final petition months ago but couldn’t finish it until the short sale is done. Now that we have a hard target date we can finish up the final petition and basically have it 99.9% done and, often, let our client review it now.
Wait, it’s only 99.9% done and you might send to your client for review, why? A lot of times clients have questions, notice typos, have changes to suggest, etc…. We want to give our clients time to review the document, without rush, so that they can give as much (or as little) input as they desire. Some clients go through it line by line and others skim it. We just want our clients to do what works for them.
So, the bottom line is, at least in my opinion, an organized and efficient California probate attorney is working on the final petition about 3-4 weeks before the date which is four months after letters have issued by the court. To me they are wasting time if they wait until after the four month date to start.
BEFORE you hire your probate attorney ask them when they start working on a final petition and see what they say. The honest ones will tell you they typically work on it a month or two or three AFTER that four month date. Sadly that’s how a lot of attorneys operate. I have seen some lawyer’s offices and know how disorganized some of them are so this doesn’t surprise me.
We want to be your probate attorney. We are HIGHLY EFFICIENT and work hard to actually finish probate cases in 7-8 months. Contact me to discuss what the probate timeline would likely look like in your case.