The process of closing a California probate is complex and may appear tedious. Fortunately, you can enlist the help of a registered legal document assistant such as A People’s Choice. We can help you close your loved one’s estate error-free and reduce your personal liability. Read on to learn more about the steps required to file a California petition for final distribution and how to close a probate.
What is a California Petition for Final Distribution?
In order to close a probate estate, the personal representative must file a final account, report, and petition for final distribution, have the petition set for hearing, provide notice of the hearing to interested parties, and obtain a court order approving the final distribution. The petition for final distribution gives the court a detailed history of the probate case. More specifically, it explains why the estate is ready to close and outlines the distribution of the assets. Usually, this final petition is a custom pleading that addresses specific issues surrounding the probate estate.
Keep in mind that the process of closing a California probate varies from court to court. For example, a few courts such as San Diego Superior Court require use of a complicated local form.
When Can You File a California Petition for Final Distribution?
The earliest date the personal representative can file a California petition for final distribution of the decedent’s estate is four months after the court issued letters. On the other hand, if the personal representative is unable to file a petition for final distribution within one year after the court issued letters, they must file a verified report regarding the status of the estate. This report must explain why the representative has not yet closed the estate and the time needed to do so. Then, the court will set a status report for hearing. At this time, the personal representative must provide interested parties with a Notice of Hearing (Form DE-120). At the hearing, the court will decide whether to let the estate stay open.
Steps to Close Probate Estate in California
1. Allowance or Rejection of Creditor’s Claims in Probate
The personal representative will need to complete and file the Allowance or Rejection of Creditor’s Claim – Form DE 174 for each claim filed. Then, creditors will have 60 days to file a claim after the receipt of notice is mailed, or four months after notice of letters. Once a creditor files a claim, the personal representative will have 30 days to pay, allow, or reject and contest the claim.
The payment of claims are based on the following priority:
- IRS or California Franchise Tax Board
- Administrative expenses
- Secured creditors
- Funeral expenses
- Family allowance
- Wage claims
- General debts
If the estate has no monetary assets to pay the claims, its real property must be sold to satisfy outstanding debts.
2. File Petition for Final Distribution
In most cases, the decedent’s real property or other assets are not to be distributed until a court order is granted. Therefore, upon the personal representative filing a petition for final distribution in a California probate, the court will set a hearing date. At this time, if the court grants the petition for final distribution, the personal representative must file an order for final distribution. Then, the personal representative can distribute the remaining assets accordingly.
Upon receiving their assets, heirs and beneficiaries must sign a receipt of distribution. Then, the personal representative must file these signed receipts with the court. Upon the estate being completely distributed pursuant to the order, the personal representative can file an Ex Parte for Final Discharge and Order, Form DE-295. Also, the representative should include copies of the filed receipts to provide proof of distribution.
Finally, the court will discharge the personal representative of all liability once they’ve distributed the estate’s assets according to the court order.
Using a Legal Document Assistant Service to Close Probate Estate
Contact A People’s Choice to close your loved one’s California probate. We can help you draft the required forms and pleadings to properly close the estate at an affordable price. Contact us for more information.