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Probate Decedent’s Estate – 2 of 6 (Becoming in Charge)

Torrance Probate and Estate Planning Attorney

Probate Decedent’s Estate – 2 of 6 (Becoming in Charge)

This writing is the second in a series regarding probate decedent’s estate court proceedings in California.

The first writing covered the ultimate goal of probate decedent’s estate court proceedings, which is transferring the assets of someone who died (a decedent) to the people who are supposed to receive them. The first writing also discussed the three major steps of a probate decedent’s estate court proceeding. This writing will elaborate on the first step, which is getting someone in charge of the assets of the decedent.

The first move toward completing this step is to file a petition and related documents with the court. A petition is a document filed with the probate court requesting that the court take some action. In this case, that action is putting a specific person in charge of the proceedings.

The court then sets a date and time for a hearing. The court hearing should occur within 60 days of the documents being filed with the court.

The court will not approve the petition unless certain steps are taken prior to the court hearing. These steps are designed to ensure that anyone with any potential interest in the assets is aware of the requests of the court in the petition.

First, one must mail notice of the hearing and a copy of the petition to all heirs of the decedent, and to all beneficiaries of the will if a will exists. These documents must be mailed prior to the court hearing of the petition. The notice tells its recipients when and where to go if they have information that they want to provide to the court. Prior notice of the court hearing also must be published in a local newspaper.

Next, one must file documentation with the court to confirm that the notice was mailed and published, as required.

If there is disagreement regarding who should be in charge, then someone may formally object to the petition, or file their own competing petition asking for the court to put someone else in charge. In that case, a mediation or a trial may be required. This slows down the probate decedent’s estate court proceeding process.

Ordinarily there is no formal objection or competing petition, and the court will appoint the specific person to be in charge as requested. The court will generate two documents that will be the proof of authority that that person is in charge.

The next post in this series will discuss further actions that may be necessary to obtain these two documents. The next writing will also address the remainder of the first step of a probate decedent’s estate court proceeding, which is getting in charge