Probate & Conservatorship
The Probate Court is responsible for handling decedent estates, guardianships, conservatorships, trust cases and other miscellaneous protective proceedings.
PLEASE TAKE NOTICE – The Sierra Superior Court has modified court operations to implement Code of Civil Procedure, section 367.75, which authorizes trial courts to conduct civil, family, and juvenile proceedings through the use of remote technology effective January 1, 2022.
Notice of scheduling requirements are defined by evidentiary or non-evidentiary hearings. Many hearing types allow parties and attorneys to appear remotely without filing a motion for remote appearance, while trials and evidentiary hearings require a form be filed with the Court and served on the other party. You can find the updated procedures and links to the new forms on the California Court’s website.
What If Probate Is Not Required?
There are many situations where an estate does not require probate, including estates under $100,000.00, estates in trust, and those cases where all of the estate passes to a surviving spouse. Even when probate is not required, however, some sort of legal process is often necessary. This is especially true when an estate owns an interest in real property. Legal counsel is recommended if you have any questions regarding estate matters.
Must I Attend Court to Inherit a Deceased Person's Property?
Not always. If you have the legal right to inherit personal property, like money in a bank account or stocks, the entire estate is worth $100,000 or less, and there is no real property (land) in the estate you may not have to go to court. There is a simplified process that can sometimes be used to transfer the property to your name. This process generally cannot be used for real property like a house. The Affidavit Procedure for Collection or Transfer of Personal Property can be found in the Probate Code under Section §13100. Check with a qualified probate attorney as to whether this procedure is appropriate.
What Is a Trust?
The Court also hears disputes pertaining to living and testamentary trusts. The person(s) charged with administering the trust, called "trustees" are required to distribute assets as described in the trust instrument. The individuals who will benefit from the trust are called "beneficiaries."
Trustees, or beneficiaries, of the trust may petition the Court to remove the trustee, release assets held by the trustee, amend the trust instrument, appoint successor trustees, appoint receivers, notify creditors, and make other orders necessary to ensure the timely and appropriate distribution of the trust's assets. Check with a qualified attorney if you have questions or need advice on petitioning the court in a trust case.
Estates: Probate proceedings may be carried out by the court on small and large estates. Please consult an attorney, paralegal, or do some research at your local law library before filing.
Wills Lodged:Within 30 days after having knowledge of the death of a testator, the custodian shall present to the clerk of the court the original will to be lodged for safekeeping, unless a petition for probate of the will is earlier filed. (Probate Code Section 8200 .)
A conservatorship is a court proceeding to appoint someone to manage financial affairs and/or the personal care of one who is either physically or mentally unable to handle those affairs.
The duties of a conservator can include:
- Arranging for the conservatee's care and protection;
- Deciding where the conservatee will live;
- Making decisions about:
- health care,
- clothes, personal care,
- housekeeping, transportation, and
- Managing the conservatee's finances;
- Protecting the conservatee's income and property;
- Making sure the conservatee's bills are paid and taxes are filed and paid on time;
- Investing the conservatee's money;
- Making sure the conservatee gets all the benefits he or she is eligible for;
- Keeping exact financial records; and
- Making regular reports of the financial accounts to the court and other interested persons.
A conservatee does not lose all rights. They can still have a say in important decisions. They have the right to:
- Be treated with understanding and respect;
- Have their wishes considered; and
- Be well cared for.
In general, conservatees keep the right to:
- Control their own salary;
- Make or change their will;
- Get married;
- Get mail;
- Have a lawyer;
- Ask a judge to change conservators or end the conservatorship;
- Vote, unless a judge says they're not able to;
- Control personal spending money if a judge says they can have an allowance; and
- Make their own health-care decisions, unless a judge gives that right to a conservator.
Lanterman-Petris-Short Act (LPS) Conservatorship
A confidential court proceeding to appoint someone to manage financial affairs and personal care of one who is gravely disabled or mentally unable to handle those affairs.
A guardianship is a court process by which a person other than a parent is given custody of a child(ren) or when a parent or other person is given authority over a child(ren)’s property.
A conservatorship is a court case where a judge appoints a responsible person or organization to care for another adult.
To transfer or inherit property after someone dies, you must usually go to court.
The California Bar Association offers lawyer referral services.
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