What if you are a beneficiary or heir to an estate but you were left out of the probate petition? What recourse do you have? One recourse is filing a Probate Code § 11700 petition in probate court to determine your distribution rights.
An heir or beneficiary may file a Probate Code § 11700 petition to determine distribution rights. In this proceeding, the court will determine whether the petitioner is entitled to distribution of a share of the estate. Section 11700 proceedings are used to interpret a will and to determine who is entitled to distribution under the will. They are also used to determine who is entitled to distribution under the law of intestacy if there is no will.
This type of petition is available to the personal representative, who is also a beneficiary or heir, and any person who claims to be a beneficiary or distributee. The petitioner may file the petition at any time after the court issues the first letters and before the court makes the order for final distribution. After the petitioner files the petition, the court will schedule a hearing to determine whether the petitioner is entitled to distribution. The petitioner must give notice of the hearing to each known heir and devisee and the attorney general if any portion of the estate will escheat to state, if their interests in the estate would be affected by the petition. Any interested person may then file a statement to support or oppose the petition.
The hearing itself is not like a typical motion hearing, but more akin to a trial. Accordingly, the parties are entitled to conduct discovery prior to the hearing. When the court’s decision becomes final (i.e. the time for appeal has run), it will be conclusive as to all interested persons.That means it is binding on interested persons whether or not they filed a statement of interest or appeared in the proceeding.
If you are a beneficiary or heir and have been left out of the probate petition, Schorr Law can help you petition the court to determine your distribution rights. Call or email us to set up a consultation.