This site offers articles about probate, trusts, and conservatorships.
The articles published on this site are for informational purposes only.
Always speak with an attorney to get the legal advice you need.
As real estate professionals, our focus is listing real property for sale. We work with personal representatives managing the estate of deceased persons. We work closely with the probate attorney during the sales process.
Probate Time Frame in California?
The answer to how long probates take depends on several factors.
Every probate estate is unique to the estate, the person administering the estate, and the county in which the probate gets filed.
Probate is a legal process that gets managed in the Superior Court in the county where the person passes away.
The State of California continues to face budget cuts which impact the time to complete a formal probate.
In Santa Clara County, all probate filings must get filed electronically. It can take up to 10 days, or longer, to receive filed documents back from the probate court.
The hearing date could be 2.5 to 3 months from the time a petition for probate gets filed.
There are local court rules and procedures that must get followed.
The probate process timeline illustrates how long it could take to probate an estate in California.
There are many factors that can influence the time it could take to complete a formal probate.
Additional factors for Probate Time Frame
- Are the beneficiaries and heirs cooperative?
- Contested Wills? It’s fair to say anytime there are disputes it will take more time to resolve the disputes and more time to get a court date for hearings to resolve disputes.
- Is the executor named in the Will willing to manage the estate’s assets?
- Does the personal representative have immediate access to the deceased person’s bank account?
- Are there issues with social security?
- Does the estate have State of federal tax liabilities?
- Are there creditor claims?
- Is the estate administered under the Independent Administration of Estates Act? This allows the estate to get managed without the need to get the court’s permission and approval.
- Did the person die without a Will?
- Is a bond required? It takes time for the personal representative to file a bond.
- Are the beneficiaries and heirs identified and located?
- Is there real property to sell? If so, with full authority, the personal representative can sell real property without court approval. The attorney mails the notice of proposed action to all parties. If there are no objections or if notice gets waived, they can sell the property in 30 days or fewer.
Even if there are no disputes and all goes well, there is no way to expedite the formal probate process. There are procedures and timelines that must get followed. For example, they must give proper notices, and the time to file creditor claims must lapse.
There are too many factors involved to guarantee how long it will take to probate an estate.
In Santa Clara County, given the court backlog, six months to probate an estate is unrealistic.
Probate cost in California is pricey and time-consuming.
If you are a personal representative managing a formal probate proceeding the probate process will take less time if all duties get completed before they are due.
Most people managing the estate are doing something for the first time and overwhelmed with their duties. They may live out of state or the area which creates its own challenges.
Probate courts are closed on holidays. Some courts only hear probate cases on specified days of the week. If a hearing date needs to get rescheduled for any reason, it will add more time to complete the process.
With estate plan documents we can avoid probate. It is prudent to hire estate plan attorneys or probate lawyers who specialize in creating estate plan documents.
Probate law is a specialized area of law. Probate attorneys are up to speed with the ever-changing laws that impact things such as estate tax.
Hire Specialized Probate Professionals
Many probate attorneys also practice elder law. Probate includes a wide range of probate law.
You would not go to a foot doctor if you were experiencing chronic headaches or pain in your chest–would you? Not because a foot doctor specializes in feet!
For legal topics pertaining to an estate plan and probate, we would not want to consult with attorneys that practice:
- business law
- intellectual property
- injury law
- family law
- immigration law
- personal injury
- real estate law
- criminal law
- government law
Not that an attorney who practices any of the above legal specializations would not agree to create estate plan documents.
Maybe we have a friend that will help us–maybe to save a few bucks. I’ve seen it so many times. I see it a lot with a Will and a living trust.
Keep in mind, I am not an attorney. I am a real estate broker. When I worked as an estate plan paralegal, I prepared, at the direction of the attorney, hundreds of wills, trusts, and related estate plan documents.
What that means is when I see a trust that looks like it got created off a self-help Internet site, it triggers the question: Who created this?
The responses range from I did it myself, to a friend from church did it, and just about anything you can think of in between.
I am not a big fan of a friend who lends a helping hand when the friend has no knowledge or experience in the areas they are advising. A well-intending friend’s bad advice may end up costing us a lot of money, time and frustration.
If we do not know what to do or how to do it, then we need to research and gather as much information as possible to make informed decisions.
California probate differs from other states. I know this is true because I have helped several friends find probate resources in other states to create asset protection documents for their parents.
Learning how a probate estate gets managed in other states and how county probate differs within the same state, is a reminder of how probate estates are not created equal.
We cannot assume probate is one size fits all. To do so may be a costly mistake. If you have a living trust and supporting estate plan documents created in California, and you move to another state, you would be wise to consult with an estate plan attorney in the state where you are living.
Is probate required with a living trust?
Listen to attorney Scott N. Carter discuss how to avoid probate by creating a revocable living trust.
Is probate required with small estates?
If the value of the deceased person’s real property and personal property is less than $150,000, the person representing the estate can avoid the process of a formal probate with an estates affidavit, known as a California Small Estate Probate Affidavit.
Procedures and timelines must get followed when transferring property with an estates affidavit. While it can take six months or longer to complete the process, it can save time and money.
We provide general information about California Probate.
If you a looking for information on Colorado probate, or any other state, we suggest that you start by searching Google for information and resources on probate in that state.
If you need legal advice and need to speak with an attorney regarding estate planning or to probate an estate, we are happy to recommend probate resources.
Personal representatives managing the estate of deceased persons, we are here to help you with real estate related matters.
We specialize in liquidating real property held in trust, conservatorship, and real property in a probate estate.