Probate consists of the supervised court process of administering a decedent’s estate to his beneficiaries and heirs. The Sutter County probate court hears issues on decedent estates, conservatorship, guardianship, and trusts.
California probate laws require notice to be provided to all interested parties after a party files a California probate.
Probate law requires a formal announcement of the probate filing in a local newspaper. In addition, the representative must mail notice of the probate filing to certain interested family members and known creditors. Fortunately, you do not need to hire an attorney to probate an estate in California. Attorneys receive an excessive fee based on the gross value of the estate. To put it differently, the amount of effort an attorney puts into probate an estate is not, in any way, tied to the considerable fee California law allows them to receive. For example, an attorney will receive a higher rate for the decedent’s probated estate valued at $900,000 in comparison to $600,000 despite putting lest time into completing legal documents and making court appearances.
How to File Probate in Sutter County
First, the probate process begins with the executor or personal representative filing the probate petition. If the decedent had a will, the holder of the original should lodge it with the court for safekeeping.
Next, the court will schedule the hearing on the Petition. Prior the scheduled hearing, the personal representative must publish notice of the hearing in a legally adjudicated newspaper for Sutter County. At the hearing, if everything is in order, the court will officially appoint the personal representative whose responsibility will be to probate the estate.
Upon the Judge signing the Order of Probate, the Court Clerk will issue Letters to the personal representative. These Letters will serve as the personal representative’s proof of authority to act for the estate.
Once the Clerk executes and issues the Letters, the appointed representative will have to get a formal inventory and appraisal of the estate’s non-monetary assets. During this time, the personal representative may need to sell assets of the estate to pay outstanding taxes and debts.
Following at least four months after the issuance of Letters, the personal representative can file a Petition for Final Distribution, requesting they be able to close the estate. If approved, they will be able to distribute the remaining assets will to the decedent’s specified beneficiaries and heirs and the estate can be formally closed.
Where to File Probate in Sutter County
The Sutter County Superior Court hears probate matters at the following place:
1175 Civic Center Boulevard
Yuba City, CA 95993
Any party can get access to the online court docket to see the activity in the probate cases. When searching by case number, you will need to include all the case number digits after the year or none of the zeros after the year to find a specific case. For example, you can enter case number CVFL-16-1238 as CVFL161238 or CVFL160001238.
Sutter County Probate Rules
A downloadable version of the Sutter County Probate Rules is available through the Sutter County Superior Court’s website. It is important to be familiar with the local rules when you file probate in Sutter County. For example, as of July 1, 2017, Local Rule 2.2b requires electronic filing of all documents in probate cases. In this regard, self-represented parties and non-attorneys are not required to file court paperwork electronically. However, the ability to send documents to the court electronically is a significant benefit and allow a personal representative to complete a probate case faster. As a result, A People’s Choice always electronically files our client’s probate documents when possible.
Adjudicated Newspapers for Sutter County
Contact the Sutter County Superior Court Clerk for a list of newspapers approved for the probate publication process. The telephone number for the Sutter County Probate Department is 530-822-3304.
Sutter County Probate Examiner
Unlike most other courts, the Sutter County Superior Court does not issue Tentative Rulings at this time, and a personal appearance is required all scheduled hearings.
Sutter County Probate Referee
The probate referee for Sutter County probate cases is:
Nancy E. Ferguson
3436 American River Drive, Suite 5
Sacramento, CA 95864
Phone: (916) 972-7042
FAX: (916) 972-0945
The role of the probate referee is to value the non-cash assets of the estate. The probate referee charges a fee for this service, but it is quite minimal. The personal representative will need to complete an Inventory and provide it to the probate referee. Once the referee receives the drafted inventory, they will value the assets and enter the values of the various assets where appropriate. The personal representative can then file the inventory with the court.
Do You Need to Hire an Attorney?
Most people can complete a California probate without hiring an attorney, However, during the probate process, it is possible you may need to contact an attorney in the event a probate matter becomes contested or you need brief advice. An attorney can give you legal advice on an hourly fee basis. In most probate cases, however, we have found that it is the rare occasion when a personal representative must seek legal advice. Keep in mind, it very typical to close a probate estate within one year of filing the petition.
We urge you to contact A People’s Choice for more information on how to file probate in Sutter County. Using our non-attorney probate services will most certainly save the estate thousands of dollars, which puts more money into the pockets of the beneficiaries and heirs! Please also visit our exciting new website ProbatebyME.com which covers our probate and estate administration matters in California in greater detail.