When I start probate, who do I tell that I’m doing probate?
Under California law, anybody listed in a will (even if the person is disinherited under the will) is entitled to notice of the probate proceedings. So are other people who are relations to the person who passed away. So knowing who do I tell I’m doing probate is important.
Here are some basics of who is to be given notice and how to give notice in California.
- Giving notice is a really specific process. Notice is given with a particular form; it is mailed and it is sent at least 14 days before the first hearing date of the probate petition. This is absolutely mandatory and if you don’t give notice correctly, you are guaranteed in any California probate court for the processing of that probate to stand still.
- In addition to the people listed in the will, California probate code says anyone within two degrees of relation, or who is within two levels of a family relationship, are entitled to the notice. For example, if a grandfather passed away, notice goes to all of his children and his grandchildren.
- Sometimes I am asked by people, “Well there is someone I really don’t want to tell about this and they are not going to get anything anyways. So do I have to?” Well, that depends. If they are mentioned in the will, yes, they get notice. If they are within those two degrees of relationship they get notice.
- Often I am also asked things like, “Well the family wasn’t really close. There were certain people that broke away and we haven’t had contact with them for a long time. Sometimes I am told it’s been decades since someone has been seen or talked to by any member of the family.
You have two ways of addressing this:
- If there is a last known address for that person, that’s what you use. All you have to do, in good faith, it to be able to report this is really the last known address for this person.
- If you don’t even have that, then you are either going to have to use a private investigator or an air search service to do some kind of investigation to find this person. And if they can’t be found, then there is an ultimate procedure called a showing of due diligence that’s made to the court (that in essence says: we know that this person is entitled to notice; these are the efforts that we made to give them notice. Those efforts were unsuccessful. And if you have enough, the court will say, its good enough, they’re dispensing with notice to that one person and then the probate can go forward from there.
If you are nominated as executor of the estate, and think you may need guidance, contact our office and we will be glad to set up your free 30-minute phone consultation.
AttorneyThe Grossman Law Firm, APC · 525 B Street, Suite 1500, San Diego, CA 92101 · (951) 523-8307