A full California probate is a seven month minimum process. It’s important to stress that is minimum as it’s often substantially longer but a full California probate can not practically be done in less than seven months due to the procedural hurdles that one has to follow during the process. In fact, with Court budget cuts throughout the state that number could be pushing toward eight months in the very near future.
UPDATE: I am updating this post in June of 2020. We just had three months of Court closures, limited to no court staff, some courts not processing filings, and most courts now allowing Zoom appearances. This all because of the Covid crisis. Now more than ever the 7 month timeline just might not be possible in a Californai probate. In many courts it’s probably 10, 11 or more months.
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As visually displayed above, the process starts when a petition for probate is filed in the probate Court in the California county where the decedent resided at death. The first Court date is 6-8 weeks later and can sometimes be 3 months later. Before the first Court date publication is arranged in a local newspaper of general circulation and notice is mailed to all interested parties. At the first Court hearing, assuming everything has been done right, the Judge should issue an order approving the petition. With the order approving the petition the petitioner can get the “Letters” issued. Letters is the most important document in a probate.
During the next 4 months, or more, the PR will use Letters to take care of the decedent’s affairs. This will include gathering assets, dealing with creditors, paying taxes, and determining who the beneficiaries are. After the four months the PR can prepare and then file the final petition. Again, the Court date will likely be 6-8 weeks out. Although I recently had one in San Bernardino county that was set 6 months out. YES SIX MONTHS!
At the time of the final hearing the Judge will hopefully sign the final order and the case is basically done. CHECKS CAN BE WRITTEN! The only other thing left to do is get receipts signed by all the heirs or beneficiaries and then filing for a final discharge. The final discharge is then given to the bond company, if there was a bond, so that the entire file can be closed. Start to finish 7 months is possible but not likely right now.
This is the ideal timeline if your attorney is working for you to meet all the deadlines. Check the Court records and you will find that John Palley works hard to meet these deadlines as to finish your probate as quickly as possible. For any questions or inquiries, don’t hesitate to call us at 916-920-5983 or fill out the form below. Or text, Skype, Fax, email or whatever works best for you!