California probate laws protect the interest of people involved in probate matters such as transferring a deceased individual’s property to his/her beneficiaries, deciding whether a will is valid, and taking care of the financial responsibilities of a person who has died. Probate also includes protecting the rights of minors and mentally incapacitated individuals. The Superior Court of California, County of Tulare probate department handles matters regarding a decedent’s estate, trusts, guardianship of minors, and conservatorships of adults.
An executor or administrator is appointed by the court to inventory the decedent’s assets, pay his/her debtors, and distribute any remaining assets to beneficiaries. The probate court oversees the entire process.
Steps to File Probate in Tulare County
In order to file probate in Tulare County, you will first need to know what type of probate is required. Estates valued under $166,250 may avoid probate. Simplified probate measures may be used to pay outstanding debts and distribute assets. Estates of large values are usually probated. For court proceedings, a petition must be filed with the court clerk of the jurisdiction the decedent last resided. The administrator must provide notice to all interested parties of the underlying probate. The appointed administrator must complete an inventory and appraisal of the estate’s assets and debts.
A probate referee will appraise the estate’s non-monetary assets. The signed appraisal is then filed with the court. The administrator will have to liquidate assets to pay creditors and taxes owed by the estate. Once this occurs, a second petition must be filed requesting that the probate be closed and assets distributed. Upon approval, the court will issue a final order granting the distribution of the estate’s remaining assets to beneficiaries.
Tulare County Probate Court Divisions
There are two divisions of the Tulare Superior Court where probate matters can be filed.
Tulare County Superior Court
221 South Mooney Blvd, Room 201
Visalia, CA 93291
South County Justice Center
300 East Olive
Porterville, CA 93257
In order to streamline the process and further help our clients, A People’s Choice can facilitate the court processing of any probate paperwork we prepare for filing with the Tulare County Superior Court Probate Clerk. According, we offer several different processing times and methods based on our clients’ needs.
Local Rules to File Probate in Tulare County
Every county has different requirements and procedures when filing probate. In other words, although there may be similarities, the probate paperwork requirements for Tulare County may be completely different from that of San Diego County. For example, some courts will not lodge Letters or the Order for Probate before the probate hearing. On the other hand, some courts require all exhibits to be specially tabbed and marked. Strangely enough, some courts such as Tulare County require certain forms to be printed and submitted on colored paper!
The probate procedures for Tulare County are outlined in the Tulare County “local rules.” Keep in mind that Tulare County’s local rules for probate are completely different from probate rules of other counties. These local rules govern how probate documents are filed and what is required by the court. For this reason, being familiar with the local rules for the Tulare County Probate Division is critical when filing probate in Tulare County. Chapter 10 of the local rules covers the local rules for probate cases.
Tulare County Adjudicated Legal Newspapers
When you file probate in Tulare County, you will be required to publish notice in a local newspaper. Pay attention to the rules that specifically define which newspaper is proper to handle the publication process. Generally speaking, however, the following newspapers are approved to publish the required probate notice for probate cases filed in Tulare County.
The Kaweah Commonwealth
Visalia Times Delta/ Tulare Advance Register
The Foothills Sun Gazette
The Porterville-Recorder News
Probate Referees for Tulare County
Every probate case filed in Tulare County will be assigned a probate referee. The probate referee’s role is to appraise and value all of the non-cash probate assets. At present, there are two probate referees that service Tulare County.
Timothy J. Simon
1306 N. Irwin Street
Hanford, CA 93230
Phone: (559) 836-1057
FAX: (559) 582-9114
Douglas W. Thompson
2818 So. Atwood Court
Visalia, CA 93277
Phone: (559) 733-1888
FAX: (559) 733-0519
Policies and Procedures of the Tulare Probate Court
Although certainly not an all-inclusive list, the following bullet points identify matters you should be aware of when you need to file probate in Tulare County.
- Tulare County requires the use of the standard probate Judicial Council forms for probate proceedings.
- All probate filings are processed in either Visalia or Porterville.
- The court does not appoint attorneys for probate cases filed in Tulare County. Consequently, when filing a probate, you would need to hire a probate attorney (very expensive) or a non-attorney legal document assistant that handles probate matters.
- When lodging the original will with the court, you may be required to pay an extra $50 fee.
- The Inventory and Appraisal must be printed on pink paper and attachments on white paper.
- The probate court clerk can be contacted at 559-730-5000 (Visalia Division) or 559-730-5000 (Porterville Division).
- Tentative rulings on probate matters can be accessed online.
- Electronic e-filing is available for probate filings.
- Appearing by phone at probate hearings through CourtCall may be an option.
- The Tulare county court’s website offers online access to court information, local rules, case docket information.
Probate Notes and Online Access for Tulare Probate Cases
Tulare County offers online access for probate matters through their online case docket system. As with other courts, the Tulare Probate court posts probate examiner’s notes before scheduled hearings. These notes, as well as tentative rulings and minutes of hearings, can be located through the court’s website. When filing probate in Tulare County, probate examiner’s notes are available online for probate hearings that are scheduled for the upcoming week. For the most part, probate examiner notes are available after 3:00 p.m. on the day prior to the hearing date. Unfortunately, this makes it difficult to timely file necessary supplemental pleadings to correct deficiencies or address examiner’s questions. Questions about probate examiner’s notes may be made to the probate examiner via email or phone. Probate examiners can be contact at 559-730-5000 ext #1305; the Document Examiner (South County Justice Center ) at 559-782-3700 ext #2342. The Probate Calendar Clerk may be reached at 559-730-5000 Option 4, then Option 6.
In conclusion, if you need help to file probate in Tulare County, contact A People’s Choice. You will save thousands of dollars using our non-attorney Tulare County probate services as compared to using an attorney. More importantly, using our non-attorney probate document preparation service will enable you to complete the complex probate process without the stress of doing it on your own, and save the beneficiaries thousands of dollars.