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By: Scott Grossman on August 5th, 2016

Listing Pre-Deceased Beneficiaries on a Petition for Probate

You may be tasked with the administration of a loved one’s estate after he or she passes away, The property of the decedent generally must go through probate proceedings in California before it can be distributed to heirs or beneficiaries—unless such property was held in a trust, owned jointly with someone else, or had a named beneficiary designation. The first step in initiating these probate proceedings is to complete and file a Petition for Probate with the appropriate court. This form asks you to list all of the beneficiaries named in your loved one’s will. What should you do if any of these beneficiaries passed away before your loved one? The following is an overview.

Including Pre-Deceased Beneficiaries When Opening a Probate

At the start of the probate process, you will be required to make a list for the probate court of all of the beneficiaries named in the will or codicil. If any of these beneficiaries died before the decedent, you should still include their names on this listing. Include the following information:

  • The full name of the deceased beneficiary.
  • The relationship of the pre-deceased beneficiary to the decedent.
  • The pre-deceased beneficiary’s approximate date of death.
  • If the pre-deceased beneficiary was related to the decedent, list the deceased beneficiaries’ children or grandchildren, if any. If the pre-deceased beneficiary had no children or grandchildren, state that as well.

Locating the family of a pre-deceased beneficiary can be difficult. If you cannot find an address for the pre-deceased beneficiary, or his children or grandchildren, try the following resources:

  • Ask relatives
  • Ask friends
  • Contact former employers
  • Search online telephone directories
  • Conduct an Internet search
  • Search the real and personal property indexes at the assessor’s office in the county of the person’s last known address

Ultimately, the probate court will decide whether you have put enough effort into trying to find an address for the beneficiary. If it is decided that you should do more, it will notify you of exactly what else you need to do.

Another situation to watch out for is when a beneficiary does not pre-decease the decedent, but instead passes away during the probate administration process. Our article, “What If a Beneficiary Passes Away During a California Probate,” provides a helpful overview of this scenario. To learn more, we encourage you to contact us directly via this website.