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 used A People’s Choice to prepare and file documents to probate my sister’s estate.  I began the probate process in pro per and hired them after discovering the difficulty in processing the probate by myself.  Very knowledgeable with good technology to keep me informed.  Their fees were significantly less than what I would have had to pay for an attorney, yet their services were excellent. I can’s see where an attorney would have been any better (or as good). Highly recommend this service.”
Ron C.
“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. Living in New England, I 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 Choice provided excellent support with the appropriate legal documents and filing process in a spousal property petition after my husband passed. Lawyers wanted to charge me a fortune. However, once I spoke with someone at A People’s Choice, they took on my case and guided me through every step. A People’s Choice has years of experience, which gave me a sense of trust and confidence. I always got immediate feedback from every email request. If you need probate help, I would highly recommend A People’s Choice.”
Sylvia A
“I had a great experience with my California probate case using A People’s Choice! The people that assisted me were so helpful.  I certainly could not have done this probate by myself.  The best part was that I was able to save over $10,000 in lawyer fees!  All my emails were always returned so quickly. Needless to say, I am a very satisfied customer.  I would highly recommend A People’s Choice to all my friends and family!”
Joi C
“When my mother-in-law passed away last year, we didn’t know what to do. We contacted A People’s Choice and from day one they were very helpful. They held our hand every step of the way, and if I had a question any time of the day or night someone got back to me within a few hours. I highly recommend A People’s Choice if you don’t know what to do and don’t want to pay the high price of a lawyer, especially if you don’t have much money.”
Mikki C
“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
“I must say that A People’s Choice is a very responsible and effective company. The 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 help you with your legal documents. You will be very satisfied with their work as I did!!!!”
C. Chiu
“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 an attorney. Many thanks to 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.
“A People’s Choice worked on my probate case for over 1 year. Their knowledge, dedication, and commitment to clients are exceptional, preparing the required legal documents, and all the court filings. They used the e-filing system which really expedited the process. They always answered my emails in a very timely manner and were professional. The probate process is long and sometimes seems overwhelming. It’s also very expensive, A People’s Choice saved me thousands of dollars as compared to an attorney. I would highly recommend A People’s Choice for your probate needs. It’s cost effective, and they handle the entire process from beginning to end!”
C.K..
“Probate itself is a frustrating and expensive process. A People’s Choice was professional and courteous throughout a long probate process. Everyone I came in contact with at A People’s Choice was exceptionally helpful, patient, and professional. For those entering into the probate process, I must warn you that it is difficult to understand. The staff at A People’s Choice makes it as tolerable you could wish for.  The people who work there were kind, efficient, and understanding.  If you email your questions, they’ll get back to you and won’t make you feel like you are ignorant if you are unclear about any part of the process.”
Marcel B
“I needed help understanding and filling out legal documents, but I didn’t have enough money to pay for an attorney. After searching the internet, 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 in 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.
“After not having my call returned from a probate lawyer, I looked into doing a Spousal Property Petition myself.  A People’s Choice assisted me through the whole probate process and everything went smoothly.  When I appeared in court, I didn’t have to say a word. The judge just said, “granted.”  Using A People’s Choice I saved thousands of dollars, and I’m so glad that probate attorney didn’t return my call.  I highly recommend A People’s Choice.”
Donna G.
“A People’s Choice walked me through the entire probate process. This company is very professional and helpful and 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 I would get an answer on Monday but lo and behold, I often got an answer within minutes! Thank you to the staff for your guidance and patience to talk me through such a difficult time. You made the process very smooth! Probably saved us about $10,000! We are very pleased and will be referring our friends/family to A People’s Choice!”
L. Garrett.
“I had hoped to have my probate process taken care of by myself to save money. After the fourth attempt to file at the Clerk’s office, I left in tears and faced the reality of hiring an attorney. I look on the internet to find one and came across A People’s Choice. They offered a price that was way below what attorneys charge! They guided me through every step of the process and wrote up all the paperwork so that all I had to do was sign. It was really an amazing experience. They are a pleasure to work with.”
D. Chase.
“Thank you so much for all your help through this California probate process.  By using your company instead of a California probate lawyer, we were able to cut our expenses dramatically.  Thank you for answering my many questions and for giving me a heads up on documents that could be prepared in advance in order to save time and money.  There was always someone available to help! Thank you again.”
Craig K.

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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