Do you need to file probate in Tuolumne County? Review our helpful tips below to get started. Fortunately, you do not have to hire an attorney to file probate in Tuolumne County. This article will explain how you can avoid paying high statutory attorney fees by using a legal document preparation service.

First, be aware that hiring a Tuolumne County probate attorney is very expensive. Attorneys in Tuolumne County typically charge probate fees based on a California statutory attorney fee schedule.  It is important to understand that these statutory fees are based on the gross value of the estate. Gross value does not take into consideration loans or debts. This means that the more valuable assets an estate has, the more attorneys fees the estate will pay to complete the probate process.

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Probate attorneys charge statutory fees based on the gross value of the estate, starting at 4%, on a tiered scale. For example, attorneys fees for a $600,000 would be $15,000! By using the flat fee services of a People’s Choice, the estate would have saved $11,100!.

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Overview of Probate in Tuolumne County

The Tuolumne County Probate Court hears probate and conservatorship matters. The Probate Court oversees the lawful process of identifying and gathering the decedent’s assets, paying all of their debts, and distributing their assets to their heirs or beneficiaries. Probate is required when an estate’s value exceed $150,000 and the property is solely in the decedent’s name. Conservatorship protects a person who cannot take care of themselves or their finances. The court will appoint a conservator to look after the conservatee.

As mentioned above, estates valued for less than $150,000 or less may qualify for California’s simplified probate procedures. The estate’s executor must file a petition with the local probate court requesting to use the simplified probate procedures. The estate beneficiaries can also claim the decedent’s property by submitting a simplified affidavit signed under oath to the probate court if he/she is entitled to a specific asset.

Whitney passed away from lung cancer. She designated her best friend Maria as the beneficiary on her savings account valued at $15,000 held with Bank of the West. Maria files an affidavit signed under oath and presents it to the bank to have the bank release the $15,000 from the account. Whitney does not have to file a formal probate case.

Many estates, however, exceed the $150,000 threshold and need a full probate to be filed. In this case, be aware that you do not need to hire an expensive probate attorney to file probate in Tuolumne County. Read on to learn more.

How to Begin Probate in Tuolumne County

File a Petition to Probate with the local court clerk (court in the county the decedent passed away) to begin probate in Tuolumne County. The petitioner must notify all interested parties of the probate matter. Interested parties include creditors and the decedent’s beneficiaries and heirs.

Once notice is provided, the petitioner must complete an inventory and appraisal of the decedent’s non-monetary assets and debts.  The probate referee will appraise the non-monetary assets and file the appraisal with the court. Assets will be liquidated to pay outstanding debts and estate  taxes. Any remaining assets will go to the decedent’s beneficiaries and heirs.

Where to File Probate in Tuolumne County

The Tuolumne probate court is at the following address:

Historic Courthouse
41 W. Yaney Avenue, Second Floor
Sonora, CA 95370

All probate cases must be filed at this location. When a probate is filed, a filing fee of $435 will also need to be submitted.

Tuolumne County Adjudicated Legal Newspapers

The California probate process involves several steps and takes 7 to 10 months to complete. One of these steps requires publishing notice of the probate filing in an approved newspaper. Currently, the only adjudicated newspaper in Tuolumne County is:

The Union Democrat
84 S. Washington Street
Sonora, CA, 95370
Phone (209) 532-7151

Policies and Procedures of Tuolumne Probate Court

You should be aware of the following details when you need to file probate in Tuolumne County.

  • Tuolumne County requires use of the standard probate Judicial Council forms for probate proceedings. There is only one local form that is required for cases handled by attorneys.
  • When lodging the original will with the court, you may be required to pay an extra $50 fee.
  • The Tuolumne court clerk can be contacted at (209) 533-5555.
  • All probate filings are processed in the Sonora courthouse.
  • Online case docket inquiry is not available for probate cases filed in Tuolumne County.
  • When using Court Call for telephonic appearances, you must pre-clear your appearance by contacting Court Call at least five days before the scheduled hearing. Court call can be reached at 888-882-6878 or through their website.

Local Rules For Probate in Tuolumne County

The rules governing probates in Tuolumne county are outlined in the local rules, Chapter 5. These local rules contain important details about special requirements by the Tuolumne courts for all probate cases. It is important to familiarize yourself with these rules when filing a probate case in Tuolumne County. If a rule is not followed, it could delay the process or the proceedings or, in a worse case scenario, be cause for the case to be dismissed.

Probate Examiner’s Notes for Tuolumne Probate Cases

Probate examiner notes are posted on the Tuolumne County court’s website and can be located here, along with tentative rulings. Probate Notes summarize the matter that is set for hearing. Probate notes also point out errors and deficiencies that may be contained in the paperwork that has been filed. They are typically posted a few days prior to the scheduled hearing. The probate notes will state whether the Petition is recommended for approval, indicate if there are missing documents, and make note of other procedural defects. It is important to regularly check the probate notes so that errors and deficiencies can be corrected before the hearing.

Probate Referees Serving Tuolumne County

Every probate case filed in Tuolumne is assigned a probate referee. The probate referee’s job is to appraise and value all the non-cash probate assets. At present, there is only one probate referee that services Tuolumne County. You must contact R. Michael Wright when you file probate in Tuolumne County. He is the only person authorized to complete the inventory and appraisal. His contact information is :

R. Michael Wright
21 Theall Street
Sonora, CA  95370
Phone: (209) 532-0628
FAX: (209) 532-9112
e-mail: probate@wright-app.com

Using the experienced non-attorney probate services of A People’s Choice will save you and the estate thousand of dollars. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you file probate in Tuolumne County without having to hire an expensive probate attorney. You can reach us at 800-747-2780.

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