Most people never face an emergency when going through the probate process. There are certain situations; however, that lead to probate emergencies and the need to file emergency probate:
- A house is facing foreclosure;
- You need to pay funeral expenses, and all funds are in blocked bank accounts;
- There are assets requiring emergency action to protect them;
- The decedent’s trust or will is in a safe deposit box, and no one has access;
- A will or trust contest has occurred and the challenging party wants to seize the decedent’s assets;
- The deceased business will suffer immediate harm unless the court appoints a probate administrator and issues temporary letters; or
- The decedent’s estate must respond to a lawsuit.
Grounds for Emergency Probate
It usually takes four to eight weeks after a petition for probate for the court to hear the matter. This means that the personal representative has no authority to act during this period. For example, the court cannot issue Letters to the personal representative until the Judge signs an Order for Probate.
If an emergency exists that requires a temporary order and issuance of Letters before the court can hear the regular Petition for Probate, you may file emergency probate. This special petition is known as a Petition for Letters of Special Administration. If the Petition is approved, the Court Clerk will issue Letters of Special Administration. Letters of Special Administration are temporary Letters of authority that can be approved by the Probate Judge for a specific purpose on an ex parte basis (without a hearing).
Parties must follow specific procedures to file an emergency probate petition in California. There are many reasons a person may want to get emergency Letters and file emergency probate in California. In all cases, however, the petitioner must demonstrate to the court an affirmative factual showing in a declaration containing competent testimony based on personal knowledge of irreparable harm, immediate danger, or statutory basis for granting emergency, ex parte relief.
How to File Emergency Probate
You file an emergency probate petition at the same time as the standard probate petition. In the emergency probate Petition for Special Administration, you must include an attachment that explains in detail why you need the appointment of a special administrator. The details must include all the facts and background of the emergency. Keep in mind that an “emergency” cannot be solely to speed up the probate process. When you file an emergency probate petition, you need to also include the Duties and Responsibilities of the Personal Representative (DE-147), the Confidential Supplement and all required attachments.
Upon filing both Petitions, the court will consider whether or not you have given sufficient details to support the need for a temporary special administrator. It is important to remember that the judge will make a decision solely on the content of the paperwork. With this in mind, your emergency probate petition (and standard petition) must be in proper order and complete. If the judge feels your request has a valid basis, the court will appoint a special administrator without the need for a hearing.
Emergency Probate Petition and Letters of Special Administration
As mentioned above, if the Judge approves your emergency probate petition, the court clerk will issue Letters of Special Administration. These Letters give the personal representative the authority to act on the emergency matters outlined in the emergency probate petition. Usually, the Order Appointing Special Administrator includes an attachment identifying the specific powers given to the Special Administrator. The Letters of Special Administration validate those special powers for a limited period, usually only until the hearing date on the Petition for Probate. During this time when Letters of Special Administration are in effect, the personal representative will act as Special Administrator, even though they may be the named executor in the decedent’s Will.
Save Money Using A People’s Choice
Filing for probate can be an expensive endeavor if you hire an attorney. That is why more and more people are turning to non-attorney alternatives for low-cost probate help. A People’s Choice has helped thousands of people complete California probate. At A People’s Choice, we can prepare the documents you need to file emergency probate with the court. We provide low flat fee probate services. Contact us today to learn more about the services we offer. See how easy it is by starting our online probate interview or call us at 800-747-2780 for more information.
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