Quick Guide to California Probate Court
California Probate Court
The state of California sets strict and detailed procedures around probate. However, although there are strict guidelines for California probate court, the state government allows the procedure to pass through an easier option if there is a set amount of real property value. This procedure will be explained more below.
Locations of CA Probate Court
The state of California does not have specific probate courts. Instead, these courts are located under the Superior Court of each area. There are many Superior Courts in CA, and some examples include the Superior Court of San Francisco and Supreme Court of Los Angeles. In order to find a complete listing of CA Superior Courts, you should visit the state’s official Judiciary Court website.
Does the Probate Process always go through Court?
California probate courts are required if the value of real property–along with other policies such as life insurance–exceed $150,000. To determine whether transfer belongs in a CA probate, you must establish the value of the real and personal property while excluding the following:
• Boats and Cars
• Property located outside of the state
• Property held in trust
• Property in a joint tenancy
• Property that automatically passes to a domestic partner or spouse
• Unpaid salary owed to the decedent up to $5,000
• Debts and mortgages of the decedent
• Joint bank accounts
If the total value of personal and real property–excluding the items listed above–falls below $150,000 you may transfer personal property through the issuance of an affidavit following 40 days from death. If the value exceeds $150,000, the transfer of property will be brought to the CA probate court.
Steps within CA Probate Court
The holder of the will must take the will to the clerk’s office within 30 days of the decedent’s death. A copy of the will must also be sent to the petitioner or proper beneficiary.
Next, a petition must be filed with the Circuit Court in the location the decedent died. The official form is the Petition for Probate Form DE-111.
After the petition is filed, CA law mandates that the following actions be fulfilled:
1) The probate clerk must set a hearing day
2) The petitioner must give proper notice to everyone who has a right to the estate. Any other person interested in the estate can file a Request for Special Notice Form DE-154
3) The notice must then be published in the local newspapers
4) A probate court will examine the case, and once a judge determines everything is in order, he or she will appoint an executor
5) The executor then prepares an Inventory of Appraisal that lists all assets and their value, along with all liabilities
6) Once liabilities are paid and a final estate tax return is filed, the CA probate court files a Report of Sale and Petition for Order Confirming Sale of Real Property and all beneficiaries receive their assets.