Steps after filing a probate petition

Steps After Filing a Probate Petition

Updated on October 21, 2021

What are the next probate steps after a petitioner is done filing a probate petition in Los Angeles County, California?

Hearing Set after Filing a Probate Petition

First, the court clerk will set a hearing on the probate petition when the petition is filed. The petitioner must then give notice to all interested persons of the commencement of the probate proceeding and information regarding the hearing. This notice must be served on each beneficiary and executor named in the will and published in a newspaper of general circulation.

Order for Probate

At the hearing, the Court will determine whether the petitioner’s petition was sufficient. If so, the Court will issue an order for probate. The Court will also issue letters testamentary or of administration and appoint a probate referee, if necessary. Some courts appoint a referee without special application. However, some counties, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, require the petitioner to submit a request for appointment of referee. The request can be filed with the probate petition. To expedite the petitioner’s right to administer the probate estate, the petitioner should prepare the order for probate and letters testamentary or of administration to submit at the hearing for the Court to issue.

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Letters Testamentary or of Administration

The letters formalize the personal representative’s appointment and his authority to act on behalf of the estate. For example, certified copies of the letters are necessary for the personal representative to transfer property into the personal representative’s name. Therefore, the representative should request several certified copies to accomplish these tasks.

Probate Referee

A probate referee typically appraises certain non-cash items in the estate whereas the personal representative appraises cash assets. A petitioner can ask the court to waive appointment of a probate referee for good cause.

Marshaling the Assets

To administer the probate estate, the personal representative will need to conduct certain tasks, including:

  1. Collecting, managing, and preserving the decedent’s assets,
  2. Paying debts, taxes, and expenses of administration, and
  3. Distributing the remaining estate to the beneficiaries and/or heirs.

Inventory and Appraisal

Within four months after the court issues the letters, the personal representative must file an inventory and appraisal of all cash and non-cash assets in the probate estate.

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Administering the Estate After Filing a Probate Petition

The personal representative will need to complete certain tasks to administer the probate estate. This includes providing notice to the estate’s creditors of the administration and pay all debts, preparing a final personal income tax return for the decedent, and petitioning for a preliminary and/or final distribution and accounting. After the personal representative complies with the Court’s order for distribution and files the required distribution receipts, the Court will discharge the personal representative from his obligations.

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