• close a probate estate in california

How to Close a Probate Estate in California

There are many steps in the California probate process, the last of which is closing the probate case. In order to close a probate estate in California, the appointed personal representative must file a petition with the probate court which reports everything he/she has done in regards to the estate. The personal representative must file a Petition for Final Distribution within one year after Letters are issued.

One of the first things required to close a probate estate in California is the preparation and filing of a final account and report along with the petition. The final account is a financial statement and report of administration on the estate’s financial activities that is required to be in drafted according to specific guidelines found at Probate Code sections 1060-1064 and 10900 as well as applicable local rules. This final account, however, does not have to be filed with the court if all interested parties of the estate sign a written waiver of account or an acknowledgment of receipt of their share of the estate.

Once the Petition for Final Distribution and related documents are filed with the court, a hearing date will be set. Notice of the hearing must be provided to all interested parties and the pertinent proof of service must be filed with the Court.

“I thought I could do mom’s probate on my own. Was I ever wrong! I never realized how complex the California probate process is!” F. Clay
“I thought that once Letters were issued I was almost done. After contacting A People’s Choice I realized there was so much more to do.” F. Clay
“A People’s Choice reviewed my court docket and was able to prepare the necessary documents to get my case on track and finally closed. “F. Clay”

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Interested parties may attend the hearing and object to the closure of probate. If there are no objections raised during the hearing, and the estate has been properly managed during the administration, the personal representative can get a court order approving the final distribution and the court will formally order to close the probate estate.

Steps to Close a Probate Estate in California

If the personal representative has been unable to close a probate estate in California within one year of the issuance of Letters, the personal representative must file a verified report of the status of the estate. The report must detail the condition of the estate, why it cannot be closed and distributed, and the estimated time needed to close the estate. The personal representative must set the report for hearing. Notice of the hearing must be served on all interested parties. Depending on the nature of the report, the court may extend the probate duration or require the personal representative to file a petition for final distribution.

In order to close a probate estate in California, the Petition for Final Distribution must include many details regarding the status of the estate. In the Petition for Final Distribution, the personal representative should include a request for approval or waiver of executor or administrator fees. In addition, a request for a court order to distribute the remaining estate assets should be submitted. The administrator can request additional compensation if he/she performed complex work on behalf of the estate. The Order on Final Distribution should be filed 10 days before the hearing (Petition for Final Distribution). It should detail the heirs and beneficiaries that will receive property from the estate. Each asset of the estate should be listed in detail. If everything is correct, the judge will sign the order.

Once an order is obtained, and to finally close a probate estate in California, the personal representative will need to distribute the real and personal property assets of the decedent to the heirs or named beneficiaries. Upon distribution, the personal representative must get a receipt from the person receiving property from the estate. The receipts should be filed with the court before filing a petition for final discharge. If there is only one distributee, he or she does not have to sign a receipt.

On an ex parte motion, the personal representative can file a formal request to be discharged so that they are no longer be liable for the administration of the estate’s contents, and the probate process will be officially completed. This is the last step to officially close a probate estate in California.

It is not uncommon for people to attempt to file probate in California on their own. Often they reach a point that continuing without professional help is simply too difficult. They don’t want to hire an attorney and are looking for other options. The good news is there are “other options”! If you need help to close a probate estate in California, please contact A People’s Choice. A People’s Choice is a low-cost option for probate help without having to hire an expensive attorney. We offer over 35 years of experience helping people successfully complete probate cases that are filed in California. Call us at 800-747-2780 for more information.

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By |2018-01-18T15:46:31-07:00December 29th, 2016|Probate|4 Comments

About the Author:

Sandra M. McCarthy, founder of A People’s Choice Inc., has worked exclusively in the legal field since 1976. She served as the 2004-2005 President of CALDA (California Association of Legal Document Assistants). She obtained a Paralegal Certificate from the University of California, Santa Barbara. During her career in the legal field, she has worked as a freelance paralegal, law office manager and paralegal studies teacher, and has co-authored numerous legal publications and written hundreds of self-help legal articles. As a registered Legal Document Assistant, Sandy is dedicated to providing affordable, low-cost, self-help document preparation services for California consumers in all 58 counties.


  1. carla April 8, 2019 at 11:52 pm - Reply

    Probate section completed, four sisters did probate “in pro per”, final judgment has been granted by the probate court of santa clara county. Questions are:
    1). how do the sisters go about filing the parent to children transfer with the assessor’s office and ensuring that the property taxes are NOT AFFECTED by any changes? 2). How do we go about claiming the mortgage interest from this property, so far it’s been 5 years that it has not been claimed by anyone, what needs to take place now and how do we handle the past claims?

    Property is located in Sunnyvale, CA. We are all done with the probate, now the question is do we just file the final judgement with an attached cover page and the legal description of the property with the county assessor’s office. And the final judgement will replace the deed and will be the latest document recorded with the county pertaining to the property? Or is it done a different way?

    • Sandy McCarthy April 10, 2019 at 6:02 pm - Reply

      If you are trying to complete this on your own, you might want to go to the court self-help center and make sure that you have covered all your steps in this case. With regards to the tax issue, speak with the county assessor. There may be an exclusion for reassessment. Talk to your CPA about claiming mortgage interest.

  2. TJ Compton January 20, 2017 at 1:02 pm - Reply

    Hypothetically, in the petition for final distribution, is there wording we can add to prevent 1 of 4 heirs from forcing the sale of the home after final distribution is signed? The will does state “if any heir attempts to force the sale of decedents home, they shall forfeit their inheritance.” But does that still hold up after final distribution? We are middle class people and cannot afford to buy his share. And, what do you charge to prepare a final distribution document?

    • Sandy McCarthy January 23, 2017 at 5:08 am - Reply

      Fee to prepare Petition for Final Distribution will vary based on issues. Please give the office a call to discuss the particulars of this matter.

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