How E-filing works in California probate courts

How E-filing works in California probate courts differs, a lot, from county to county. Some options:

  • Some counties are still 100% paper filing;
  • Some counties are close to 100% E-filing;
  • Some counties say they are E-filing but require paper filing;

The point is it’s different throughout the state. It’s changing all the time. For example, just in the past few months Placer and Yolo counties went to E-filing.  Unfortunately implementing a new system when you are short staffed and/or aren’t open to the public can be a nightmare!

Some counties, like Santa Clara, require everything be done electronically which makes sense as it’s the heart of Silicon Valley. However, there is no way to get a court date within 30 days as the California probate code REQUIRES. That seems wrong to me. Some human interaction might be good!?

My favorite is San Francisco. You would think that they would be pretty cutting edge on technology, right?  Well… they are a mandatory E-filing county. However, and this is really the funniest thing, they require you send in a paper copy for their file examiner to review. So they have it in their computers but you need to send in a hard copy via courier or the mail or FedEx. Talk about inefficient, right!?   I am sure they have a great reason for it but makes no sense to me.

Other counties, like Sacramento, have not gone to E-filing yet but you can “Fax File” which allows for quick filing of documents when you only have a copy. However, currently Sacramento filings are done by drop box and they seem to take several days to get filed into the system. Of course, like many counties, they have employees working staggered schedules, working from home, people are sick, etc… so it’s understandable they are slower than their normal efficiency level.

The bottom line here is things are different around the state and attorneys like myself, with a state wide practice, take the time to stay up to date on all the counties various filing requirements and procedures. If you filed a probate in one county and are about to file one in another expect some differences and often some very big differences.

If you have a question about California probate court processes and procedures I am happy to try to help! We have a good handle on counties throughout the state due to our practice footprint.

I look forward to hearing from you.

-John Palley

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