After the death of a person who has an estate worth more than $150,000 in value, someone will need to petition the court for probate using form DE-111 Petition for Probate. No matter if the person died with a will or without a will, someone will need to settle the estate through probate. You should try to file probate within 30 days of death.  If the decedent left a will, then an executor or a personal representative named in the will should file the petition.  If the decedent left no will, the will failed to name an executor, or the named executor is unable to serve as an executor, then a person over the age of 18 who wishes to be the personal representative should file the petition.

What our Clients Say...
“I cannot say enough about the time and money this company saved me. With their help I finished Probate in Tulare Co on my brother estate in little over 12 months. I am a letter carrier with no legal training, yet , I completed the entire process mainly because A People’s Choice walked me thru each step. They filed most papers electronically which resulted in me needing only three court appearances ( and saved me from many trips to Visalia. Keep in mind, all probates are different but if you have limited resources I recommend this company. The Probate Judge complimented me on the good work I received from A People’s Choice, saying this was not always to case with other legal help offices.”
Jack M.
“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.

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…or continue reading the article below to learn more about filing a DE-111 Petition for Probate.

The Hidden Complexities of DE-111 Petition for Probate

On its face, the DE-111 petition for probate looks fairly simple. We often receive calls from people who wonder why they need to hire someone to prepare such a simple-looking document. Unfortunately, to file a DE-111 petition for probate you will need several different forms and attachments. Although the DE-111 appears, on its face, to be somewhat simple, completing the documents correctly with all the required special attachments can be complicated.

In the DE-111 Petition for Probate, you will need to fill out some basic information about the decedent, the estimated value of the estate and estimated liabilities. The document also asks for the names of close relatives and potential beneficiaries.  After the Petition is filed, the court will set a hearing date in which an executor will be formally named.  Within 15 days of the hearing, you must serve Notice of Petition to Administer Estate on any beneficiaries named in the will and any people who would inherit if the decedent had died intestate.  In addition, you will need to publish a notice in a newspaper in the city where the decedent lived before the hearing. The publication rules vary slightly from county to county in California.  Formal notice must also be given to any creditors as well.

Forms Required With DE-111 Petition

There are number other forms you must file with the DE-111 Petition for Probate. For example, when filing a Petition for Probate, the process involves putting together a combination of forms and special attachments. Additional required forms include various non-form attachments and declarations to the Petition for Probate (DE-111), Notice of Petition to Administer Estate (DE-121), Duties and Liabilities of the Personal Representative (DE-147), Order for Probate (DE-150), and Letters (DE-150).  There are additional forms to nominate the personal representative, request the court admit a holographic will or for subscribing witnesses.  If there is a will, you will need to attach the will to the petition.

All of these additional forms serve different purposes in the probate process. For example, the Duties and Liabilities form outlines the role of the personal representative and informs you that you may be liable for mismanagement. The Order outlines whether or not the personal representative has limited or full authority and if they need a bond. The Letters show that you have the power to act on behalf of the estate. The issuance of Letters is a vital part of the Personal Representative’s ability to act during the probate process. For example, you will need Letters to transfer stock funds or to release funds from a bank account.  The personal representative will likely need to withdraw funds from the decedent’s bank account to pay bills.

Typically the court will accept for filing a DE-111 Petition for Probate, even if it is incomplete or not properly prepared. It is important to note, however, if you file an incomplete or incorrect Petition, you will not get far in the process. Before every hearing, a probate examiner meticulously reviews every filed document in the probate case. After this review, the Probate Examiner will post probate notes that point out all of the deficiencies and errors in the documents. Unfortunately, the examiners typically do not publish these probate notes until right before their scheduled hearing. That’s when the problems become apparent. As a result, the court will most likely continue the hearing. In addition, the personal representative will face paying extra fees to a professional to “fix” the problems that were avoidable.

The Three Phases of Probate in California

Completing the DE-111 Petition for Probate is just one of a multitude of steps in the California probate process. Once the court appoints the personal representative, Phase 1 is completed. That is not the end of the process, however. California probate involves three separate phases with multiple steps in each stage to complete the probate process.  I cannot tell you how often we hear from people who receive an order to appear in court for their failure to timely complete the probate case! Often people think that once they complete Phase 1, the probate is done. This is not the case.

It usually takes 9-12 months to complete all of the probate steps and receive a discharge from duties as personal representative. Once the court appoints a personal representative, they are responsible for marshaling the decedent’s assets; notifying and paying creditors; maintaining and protecting the property; and distributing the decedent’s assets according to the terms of the will.  The probate process will involve several hearings and court appearances you can finalize the case.  As mentioned earlier, most probate proceedings take less than 12 months to complete, but it may take longer if there are complications.  If a personal representative fails to timely move through the probate process, they expose themselves to the court stripping them of their right to act as personal representative. In the worst-case scenario, the court may assess other penalties!

Not all estates require filing full probate. For example, if the total value of the estate is less than $150,000. you may be able to settle the estate using a small estate affidavit. California offers several small estate options that bypass the need to file formal probate.

The Low-Cost Alternative to Hiring a Probate Attorney

You don’t need to hire an expensive probate attorney to file a DE-111 Petition for Probate. We do, however, recommend you get professional help for this process. A professional’s help will avoid a delay of the court’s approval of your probate Petition and issuance of Letters. Furthermore, hiring a professional will also make sure the probate case moves without unnecessary delay through the three probate phases  At A People’s Choice, we provide low-cost probate legal document preparation services in all 58 California counties. Contact us today to learn more information about our probate legal document preparation services. We are here to answer your questions, and are available seven days a week from 8:00 am to 8:30 pm to accommodate people’s busy schedules. Give us a call at 800-747-2780.

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