The California probate process has several steps. From probating a will to distributing assets, complying with each step throughout the process is critical. When it comes to your petition, a probate examiner can help you address any discrepancies prior to the hearing. In fact, learning to read California probate examiner’s notes on a petition’s discrepancies can help ensure your probate proceedings run smoothly.

What is Probate?

Probate is the formal legal process that involves validating a decedent’s will, if there is one, and confirming the decedent’s estate distribution plan. During probate, the estate’s representatives gather the decedent’s assets and debts and use them to pay debts and taxes. Then, they distribute the remaining property to beneficiaries as instructed by the will.

However, if there is no will, property is distributed in accordance with California’s intestate succession laws. Contact A People’s Choice for information about how to probate a will in Ventura County.

What is a Probate Examiner?

A probate examiner is an individual who reviews all probate documents for content and legal requirements before the court receives them. Furthermore, the examiner ensures the probate petition is complete and contains all required information according to California law, local court rules, and other regulations such as publication and notice.

The probate examiner will review the petition anywhere from a few days to several weeks before the scheduled hearing. During review, the examiner prepares a written summary of their findings, known as probate notes.

What are Probate Examiner Notes?

Probate examiner notes are summaries prepared by the probate examiner after reviewing a petition for probate.  The notes are presented to the probate judge to help them make a decision during petition review. More specifically, probate notes identify the parties involved in the matter and the relief they seek. Additionally, these notes provide summaries of reports and objections and list deficiencies in the petition or items on which the court may require further information. Furthermore, the court often requires supplemental paperwork to address the probate examiner’s notes.

How To Access Probate Examiner Notes

Every court has its own system for publishing probate notes. Oftentimes, these notes are available online. Below are some convenient links to probate notes for a few of the courts we service.  However, note that this list is not representative of all the counties for which A People’s Choice provides probate services. If you need help locating probate notes on an existing case, we can help. Additionally, we can help with preparing any necessary supplements to address the probate examiner’s concerns.

Fresno County Examiner Notes
Los Angeles County Examiner Notes
Marin County Examiner Notes
San Bernardino County Examiner Notes
San Diego County Examiner Notes
San Francisco County Examiner Notes
Stanislaus County Examiner Notes
Ventura County Examiner Notes

Note: Probate notes may be revised several times prior to a hearing. Therefore, always confirm with the probate examiner that you are reviewing the most updated notes.

Helpful Tips for Probate Examiners Notes and Petition Reviews

After completing their notes, probate examiners advise counsel and self-represented parties of the defects within their petition and recommend changes. However, some examiner notes are not available for review until a day or two before the hearing. This leaves no time to file supplemental documentation to address the examiner’s notes. As a result, petitioners can push their probate hearings to allow more time to clarify matters the probate examiner identified.

Contact your local court prior to the hearing and request the probate examiner’s notes so you have the opportunity to file any necessary supplemental paperwork. If you do not understand the probate examiner’s findings, ask them to clarify. Even if filed late, a supplement may circumvent having the hearing continued.

If you find yourself in charge of settling your loved one’s estate, you may be wondering what first steps you need to take. Contact A People’s Choice for more information about probating an estate in California. We can help you prepare and file all the documents you need to probate your loved one’s estate.

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