You need to make sure that you give notice of the court hearing after you file a petition or other pleading with the probate division in Los Angeles County Superior Court (LASC) in California. Giving notice is letting other people know about the court hearing.
The probate court’s the only court division there that handles cases involving probate estates of decedents, conservatorships of incapacitated adults, and trusts subject to court supervision or legal dispute. It also handles all guardianships of minors in need of someone to manage their affairs and all minor’s compromise cases.
We’ve discussed how to give this notice in three prior posts . If you don’t do it correctly, then the court may continue (or postpone) your court hearing to a later date. The court also could deny or dismiss your request altogether
Here we will discuss some exceptions to these notice requirements:
1. Waiver of Notice of Hearing;
2. Appearance Instead of Notice of Hearing;
3. Appearance Instead of Citation;
4. Notice of Continuance; and
5. “Ex Parte” Court Hearings.
Waiver of Notice of Hearing
After you file a petition or other pleading with the probate court, you need to have someone mail a Notice of Hearing—Decedent’s Estate or Trust or a Notice of Hearing—Guardianship or Conservatorship, depending on the type of case. You need to do that at least 15 days prior to the court hearing for probate decedent estates and conservatorships. The time period is 30 days for trusts subject to court supervision or legal dispute.
If you forgot to mail Notice of Hearing to someone and now it’s too late to do it, there are two possible fixes. First, consider having that person sign a Waiver of Notice. This can be a good option if that person is not adverse to what you are requesting of the court.
Of course you would need to file the signed Waiver of Notice with the court prior to the hearing. The court will need to know about it.
The court often will accept a Waiver of Notice instead of you providing the required Notice of Hearing in time.
Appearance Instead of Notice of Hearing
There’s another possible fix if you forgot to mail Notice of Hearing to someone. If that person appears (or shows up) during the court hearing, then failure to provide notice to that person’s irrelevant. Mailing the Notice of Hearing is for letting other people know about the court hearing. If they appear during the court hearing anyway, then no harm no foul!
Appearance Instead of Citation
You must have someone personally serve (or physically hand) a Citation for Conservatorship and a copy of your petition on the person who is the subject of the conservatorship (or the proposed conservatee). You need to do that at least 15 days prior to the court hearing.
If you didn’t accomplish that personal service in time, the court-appointed attorney for the proposed conservatee may waive it. In the Probate Court in Los Angeles County, that court-appointed attorney is called “Court-Appointed Counsel” (or “CAC”). The court often will accept waiver by the CAC instead of you providing personal service.
If the proposed conservatee appears during the court hearing, that will make the failure to personally serve irrelevant. The court obtains “jurisdiction” (or authority) over everyone who appears in the courtroom during the hearing.
Notice of Continuance
Sometimes the court determines during a hearing that it needs to continue the hearing to a later date. That may happen even if you provided all required notice of the court hearing. For example, the court may require you to file an additional pleading to explain something more clearly.
When this happens, normally you don’t need to mail or personally serve any notice of that new continued hearing date. If the court wants you to provide notice of the continued hearing, then ordinarily the judge will tell you so.
Anyone who wanted to provide information to the court regarding your petition would have been present during the court hearing. Thus, they would already know about the continued hearing because they were in court when the court set it.
Ex Parte Court Hearings
The court very strongly prefers not to have hearings unless everyone with an interest in the petition has the opportunity to provide pertinent information to the court. This is fundamental to the probate court providing justice.
Nevertheless, there are emergency circumstances when the court will allow a hearing without the regular notice requirements. These are called ex parte court hearings. Ex parte essentially means in the presence of less than all of the interested parties.
Get Help from an Experienced Los Angeles County Probate Attorney
It can be difficult to take advantage of these exceptions to letting everyone know about your court hearing. If you do it incorrectly, then the court will continue the hearing to give you another try. Even worse, the court could deny or dismiss your petition altogether.
Hiring an attorney with experience in the Los Angeles County probate court helps you avoid all of this. In addition, the advice and guidance of an attorney experienced with probate court cases is invaluable for attaining your goals in cases involving probate estates of decedents, conservatorships of incapacitated adults, trusts subject to court supervision or legal dispute, guardianships of minors in need of someone to manage their affairs, and minor’s compromises.
At Meinzer Law Firm, P.C., we have over 20 years of experience in the Los Angeles County probate court. Contact Meinzer Law Firm, P.C., in Torrance to assist you with your Los Angeles County probate court case.