A lot of people who google the question "how long should a California probate take" probably are either:
1) contemplating hiring a lawyer who says it will take a year or more; or
2) in the midst of a probate with a lawyer who is taking a year or more.
I have personally completed over 1,000 California probate cases and they should usually be done within a year. There are only a few reasons probate should go longer than about 8-9 months in fact. Those reasons are:
1) Bad Court Dates- The fact is some courts are overly busy and you can get court dates 2-3 months out. You need at least two court dates during probate plus a four month probate period. So you can get up toward a year if you get bad court dates.
2) Creditors- The one year mark is considered the hard line for creditors
I was recently contacted by a potential client who lived in California. They had lost a loved one and wanted to know about probating their loved one's will. That all sounds simple so far but wait....
Like many their loved one had set up a will and trust in the US and put some, but not all, of their assets into the trust. This is a common problem so please heed this public service message: FUND YOUR TRUST WHILE YOU ARE ALIVE!
Their loved one further complicated the situation by moving to another state in the union and then moving to a foreign country which is where they resided at death.
Can a California probate attorney help?
Wellllllll, it's complicated.
Two different thoughts came to me:
Even if you have the best California probate attorney you can get a bad court date. In most cases there are two court dates given. One at the beginning when you file the Petition for Probate or Petition for Letters Testamentary or Petition for Letters of Administration. The second date is at the end of probate when you file your accounting which is often called a First and Final Report.
I always ask the Court to actually follow the law and give my clients a court date within 30 days as provided in California probate code 8003. That section provides, in part, "The hearing on the petition shall be set for a day not less than 15 nor more than 30 days after the petition is filed." However, many courts ignore the law and still file 2 or 3 months out.
So the first court date does at least ha
I file a lot of probates each year throughout the state of California. Just off the top of my head I think I have open probates right now in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Alameda, San Diego, Riverside, Sacramento, Placer, Orange, El Dorado, Ventura, Sonoma, Fresno, Kern, Amador, San Bernardino, Sutter, San Joaquin, Contra Costa, Butte, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and I am sure I am forgetting a few. In each probate case we have to publish in a newspaper that is adjudicated with the court and covering the place the decedent resided.
In many cities, particularly larger cities, there are several newspapers competing for the business. There might be a "cheapie" at $150 and maybe the local daily Goliath charges $750. In most of those cities we have papers we have found reliable who trend toward the