• File Probate in Sonoma County

File Probate in Sonoma County

If you need to file probate in Sonoma County, contact A People’s Choice to work with a probate document specialist. Our office can prepare and file the legal documents you need to probate your loved one’s estate in Sonoma County.

You may not be aware, however, that you do not need to hire an attorney to file probate in Sonoma County. Yes, it’s true. With the help of an experienced probate preparer, most people have the competency to file probate in Sonoma County without legal representation. In either case, research the pros and cons of hiring an attorney versus legal document preparer to probate your loved one’s estate before you begin the process. Once you understand the cost savings, you will see why more and more people are filing probate on their own through our non-attorney probate service. Read on to learn more about the probate process in Sonoma County.

The Sonoma County Probate Division has the legal authority to make orders in matters involving probate, conservatorship, and guardianship. In this regard, probate involves the court supervised process of administering a deceased person’s estate. More particularly, the probate process includes paying any outstanding taxes and debts of the decedent’s estate before distributing remaining assets to beneficiaries and heirs. Provided that there are no unusual delays in the process, most probate Executors and Administrators are able to resolve probate matters within one year.

What our Clients Say...
“I can’t say enough about the level of service and professionalism I received working with A People’s Choice. Emails were always responded to quickly and thoughtfully. They really care about the process and helping you get the best result with no up-selling. Of course they can’t provide legal advice, but I was referred to an attorney when I needed some questions answered who was very reasonable and easy to get a hold of as well. The process played out according to plan and I ended up saving a lot of money by going with A People’s Choice over an attorney.”
M. Rice
“I am writing to give A People’s Choice my utmost recommendation. I live in New England and found them on the web. After speaking with a staff member on the phone I had the confidence to give them my business. A People’s Choice handled my probate case with great professionalism and knowledge. My case turned out to be more complicated than originally believed and the staff walked me through each step. They always responded promptly to my email questions. In the end, their service was exactly what I hoped for; they saved me thousands of dollars and allowed me to do it from across the country. They were truly a pleasure to work with.”
K. Levenson
“A People’s Choice helped us throughout our entire year-long probate making the process very easy and manageable while at the same time saving us thousands of dollars in lawyer’s fees. Not only were they extremely friendly and fast to respond to our questions but they made the process simple enough that we hardly ever had to contact the courthouse directly and we even had a hearing done without an appearance. Would highly recommend A People’s Choice to anyone!”
A. Vuckovich
“A People’s Choice is a very responsible and effective company, staff there is very nice and replied to all my questions by email quickly. With their help, I accomplished the probate in 8 months successfully and saved at least $10,000.00 in attorney fees, so I strongly recommend everybody to contract with A People’s Choice and let them to help you with your legal documents. You will be very satisfied with their work as I did!!!!”
C. Chiu
“A People’s Choice walked me through the entire probate process. They are so professional and helpful. Thank you to the staff for your guidance and patience to talk me through such difficult time. You made the process very smooth for me. I am so glad that I found you.” 
Sandie K.
“The staff at A People’s Choice made a scary Probate pretty much stress free. I would send an email with a question I had thought of over the weekend with the expectation that I would get an answer on Monday. Lo and behold, I often got an answer within minutes! We are very pleased and will be referring our friends/family to A People’s Choice!”
L. Garrett
“Thanks to A People’s Choice I was able to get through a probate matter very smoothly. I had not one issue with the Courts. They guided me through the whole probate until the very end. I live up north but that didn’t matter, A People’s Choice did an excellent job keeping me informed with everything that I needed to do. I saved THOUSANDS of dollars by going with A People’s Choice. You can’t go wrong, no matter what your needs are. I saved a lot of money by not having to pay out a percentage to any attorney. I want to thank the staff at A People’s Choice for the great help they give to everyone in their times of need. Like I was! Thank You.”
R. Leonard
When my father passed away without a will, we needed help handling the transfer of his assets. Since there weren’t significant assets, I didn’t want to spend too much on the legal paperwork. A People’s Choice offered just the right service we needed. In particular, the staff was very responsive to our document filing needs, helping to turn around corrections almost immediately. They helped to ease a tough situation.
Michael C.
“I used A People’s Choice for help with a probate matter. My grandfather died Christmas of 2016. He had a living trust but no one was able to find it. We went to A People’s Choice and we were able to do a probate affidavit to get what was left of my grandfather’s estate. Took two days for the documents to be prepared and the bank accepted them without any questions. Sandy was the one who assisted us and we really appreciate the help that was provided. A+ service.”
David R.
“I needed help understanding and filling out legal documents but I didn’t have enough money to pay for an attorney. I searched the internet for a short period of time looking for help and when I found A People’s Choice, I was relieved to know that I would get the exact service that I needed at an affordable price. The staff was very professional and helpful with my legal documents. They worked around my schedule and responded to my emails on a timely manner. They took care of all the paperwork and filing and kept me posted. I would highly recommend A People’s Choice for your legal documents as you will get outstanding service at an affordable price. “
Sharon B.

We Help to File Probate in Sonoma County!

  • or call 1-800-747-2780

Important Money Saving Tip!

The average house value in Sonoma County is $643,500 and values are expected to increase about 3.4% within the next year. 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 $640,000 estate filed in Sonoma County would be $15,800! By using the flat fee services of an experienced probate legal document assistant, the estate can save thousands of dollars.

Click here to see how much you can save!

Note, not all estates need to go through a formal probate process. In this regard, California probate law requires an estate to go through the full probate process if its value exceeds $150,000 (this includes real or personal property in the decedent’s name that exceeds this value). By comparison, you can settle smaller estates valued less than $150,000 using other simplified probate processes. If there is no real property, for example, a court proceeding may not even be necessary. In this situation, beneficiaries can send an affidavit signed under oath to a financial institution to claim an interest in the decedent’s estate under simplified California probate procedures.

Lisa passed away from stomach cancer in 2008. She willed her daughter Sarah $130,000. First Sunshine State Credit Union held the account. Because the estate’s value is under $130,000, Sarah can send an affidavit through a simplified non-court procedure to get her inheritance.

How to File Probate in Sonoma County

The decedent’s Executor or living relative can begin the probate process. First, to file for probate, the Executor/relative must file a petition for probate with the local court clerk. Next, based on the circumstances, the court will grant Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration to the personal representative. After that, the estate must go through an inventory and appraisal process. The probate referee will appraise all non-monetary assets of the estate. The personal representative must give proper notice of the probate to all the decedent’s creditors. In like manner, creditors have the opportunity to make claims against the estate for unpaid debts. Once the personal representative pays all taxes and debts, the personal representative can distribute all remaining assets to the estate’s beneficiaries and heirs.

Where to File Probate in Sonoma County

Probate petitions are filed at the following place in Sonoma County:

Civil and Family Law Courthouse, 3055 Cleveland Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA 95403

Office hours are between 8:00 am to 3:30 pm Monday through Friday. The Probate Clerk’s office is in the Family Law Department, across the hall from Courtroom 18.

Sonoma County Probate Rules

Rule 6 of the Sonoma County Local Rules provides special procedures for probate cases filed in Sonoma County. It is essential to familiarize yourself with the local rules before submitting any legal documents to the court.

Adjudicated Newspapers for Sonoma County

There are several newspapers in Sonoma County that are available to handle the publication of the legal notice for probate. You can find a list of approved newspapers on the court’s website. With this in mind, special rules control which paper is the proper newspaper for the publication. A People’s Choice facilitates arranging the required publication for our client’s cases. This avoids any unnecessary delay as a result of publishing in the wrong newspaper.

Sonoma County Probate Examiner

The current probate examiner for Sonoma County is Kelly Jenkins. In this regard, you can contact the probate examiner using the following contact information. Keep in mind, the probate examiner is not allowed to give legal advice.
3055 Cleveland Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Email: probateExaminer@sonomacourt.org

The job of the probate examiner is to review the documents filed in probate matters and other cases involving trust and decedent’s estates. In other words, the examiner will check the filed petition and other documents to make sure they comply with the Probate Code and the local court rules. In this regard, during the review, the examiner may discover procedural deficiencies or concerns that must be corrected or clarified before the judge can make its decision on the Petition. After review, the examiner will post the Court’s tentative ruling on the court’s website. In this regard, these tentative rulings are usually available on the day before the hearing, after 11:00 AM by calling (707) 521-6881. In addition, the tentative rulings are also posted by 12 pm the day before the hearing. Provided that the examiner posts the tentative ruling, you can review Probate Tentative rulings on the court’s website by clicking here.

Understanding the Tentative Ruling Process

The tentative ruling process in Sonoma County streamlines the probate process. Keep in mind, if the tentative ruling is accepted, you may not need to appear at the court hearing. If you wish to oppose a tentative ruling, you must contact the probate clerk at (707) 521-6893. Furthermore, any party who wants to be heard and oppose the petition must give notice to all other parties of their intent to appear.  The party opposing must provide notice by 4:00 p.m. on the court day before the actual day of the hearing. Remember, unless someone gives notice of opposition to the probate clerk, the tentative rulings will become the court’s formal ruling at 10:45 a.m. on the day of the hearing.

For people who find it difficult to personally appear in court, CourtCall is available for telephone appearances on the probate calendar. While this may be true, the court does not allow telephonic appearances on petitions to confirm the sale of property and other similar matters. CourtCall Video is also available for remote court appearances on the probate calendar.

Sonoma County Probate Referee

There are two probate referees authorized by the court to appraise estates in Sonoma County. They are:

John W. Shackford, P.O. Box 412, Napa, CA  94559-0412; Phone: (707) 255-8121; FAX: (707) 253-9336; e-mail: jwsincnapa@aol.com
Michael L. Torr, 160 Wikiup Drive, Suite 201, Santa Rosa, CA  95403; Phone: (707) 544-8636; FAX: (707) 526-3758; e-mail: scprobatereferee@gmail.com

Basically, the probate referee’s job is to value the non-cash assets of the decedent. More specifically, in a full probate, this step takes place after the court has issued Letters to the personal representative. In addition, the probate referee charges a fee equal to 0.1% of the value of assets appraised. Keep in mind, the probate referee can also can charge for mileage and expenses for photocopying and other incidental costs.

How to Complete Probate in Sonoma County

Contact A People’s Choice for help in completing the probate process in Sonoma County. You will save thousands of dollars in legal fees by working with an experienced legal document preparer. If you need more information on how to file probate in Sonoma County, you can call 800-747-2780. We can tell you exactly how much using our non-attorney probate services will save your particular estate which will undoubtedly put more money into the pockets of the beneficiaries and heirs.

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By |2018-04-16T16:27:18+00:00March 28th, 2018|Probate|0 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.

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