Filing a California probate proceeding without an attorney is not an easy task. It is possible, however, with the proper help of a professional registered legal document assistant’s office such as A People’s Choice. A People’s Choice prepares all the routine documents to allow people to successfully complete a California probate without having to hire an expensive attorney, saving the beneficiaries and the estate thousands of dollars! This simple California probate checklist is an easy reference guide that will keep your California probate proceeding on track. The checklist below may seem overwhelming; but when you use the professional, non-attorney services of A People’s Choice, we take care of everything! Our clients just attend the necessary court hearings (which can sometimes be done over the phone) making it simple, easy and stress free!

California probate can be broken down into three separate phases. Phase one encompasses gathering information, preparing the initial paperwork and attending the hearing on the Petition. Phase two involves itemizing and inventorying property, reviewing and paying creditor claims, and filing tax returns. Phase three deals with closing the estate and distributing the assets to the beneficiaries. When everything has been successfully completed, the court’s last step is formally releasing the appointed representative of their duties and responsibilities in the probate proceedings. Please refer to the following California probate checklist for specific details of each phase of the probate process.

California Probate Checklist For The Self-Represented

  1. Locate decedent’s will or trust, if there is one.
  2. Prepare complete address list of all named executors, trustees, beneficiaries and heirs.
  3. Check local rules in the court where the probate is to be filed for special forms required in the probate proceedings.
  4. Determine appropriate legal newspaper for the statutory publication.
  5. Prepare and file Probate Petition.
  6. Arrange for publication of notice to creditors in local newspaper.
  7. Send Notice of Hearing to all interested parties.
  8. Review probate notes at least a week before the hearing on probate.
  9. Prepare and file any necessary supplements to address comments in probate notes.
  10. Attend hearing on probate.
  11. Obtain and file probate bond, if necessary. (Bond requirement may be waived with full cooperation of beneficiaries and proper request.)
  12. File and get 2-3 certified copies of Letters authorizing Executor (if there is a will) or Administrator (if no will) to act on behalf of estate.
  13. Obtain conformed copy of Order of Probate.

  14. Notice all known creditors.
  15. File Statement of Death of Real Property Owner BOE 502-D with County Assessor.
  16. Request assignment of Probate Referee (if not automatically done by the court).
  17. Contact Probate Referee to complete Inventory and Appraisal.
  18. File Inventory and Appraisal.
  19. Wait creditor period. (Unless otherwise ordered by the court, creditors have 4 months after issuance of Letters within which to file claims against the estate.)
  20. Accept and/or reject claims and pay creditors.
  21. File any required tax returns.

  22. Obtain Waivers of Final Account from all beneficiaries.
  23. File Petition for Final Distribution and Order  (earliest is 4 months after date Letters are issued).
  24. Review probate notes at least a week before hearing on Petition for Final Distribution.
  25. Prepare and file any necessary supplements to address comments in probate notes.
  26. Attend hearing on Petition for Final Distribution.
  27. Distribute assets to beneficiaries and get signed Receipts.
  28. Record Order of Distribution in county where all real property of the estate is located.
  29. File signed beneficiary Receipts with Court.
  30. File Ex Parte Discharge of Executor or Administrator.

Contact A People’s Choice for more information about the California probate process. Understanding the steps necessary to complete a California probate is extremely important when handing a probate proceeding without an attorney. We have written numerous blog posts about how to file probate that will take away some of the mystery surrounding probating an estate in California. Probate is a complex process; however, as you can see by our California probate checklist, it is a very procedural, step-by-step process. A People’s Choice is an inexpensive alternative to administer a California estate.  Don’t spend unnecessary money hiring a probate attorney when, with a little help from A People’s Choice, you can successfully complete this process on your own. Call 800-747-2780 and speak with one of our experienced staff for more information about how we can help you.

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