May 24, 2019

Probate Division

Location: Civil and Family Law Courthouse, 3055 Cleveland Avenue, Santa Rosa CA 95403
For Mailing: Hall of Justice, 600 Administration Drive, Santa Rosa CA 95403

Office Hours: 8:00 AM to 3:30 PM Mon-Fri
Court Hours: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM Mon-Fri
(707) 521-6650 8:00 AM to 12:00PM Mon-Fri

SUPERIOR COURT OF CALIFORNIA, COUNTY OF SONOMA
 

Probate Division Home Page

For contact information regarding all initial Guardianship petitions for Person and Estate and Person only go to:

Probate Calendar Information

Hon. Lawrence E. Ornell

Guardianship Calendar
Courtroom 5
Hall of Justice 600 Administration Drive, Santa Rosa,CA 95403

Hon. Jennifer V. Dollard

Probate Calendar
Courtroom 18
Civil and Family Law Courthouse, 3055 Cleveland Avenue, Santa Rosa,CA 95403

Hon. Barbara Phelan

LPS Calendar
Courtroom 8
Hall of Justice 600 Administration Drive, Santa Rosa,CA 95403

The Probate Clerk may be reached at 521-6650.

Matters processed by the Probate Division include wills, conservatorships, guardianships of the estate, mental health or LPS petitions, compromise of minors claims, petitions for change of name and/or gender and special needs trusts.

Probate / Guardianships of the Estate / Conservatorship Ex Parte Matters

Ex partes regarding these matters are heard before the Probate judge

Conservatorships, Decedent’s Estates, and Trust matters:
Applications for Ex Parte Orders in matters related to conservatorships, decedent’s estates, and trust matters may be dropped off at the Sonoma County Court Clerk's office, Probate Division, on Wednesdays, during normal business hours. The application must be submitted before 10:00am. Orders will be available for pick up by counsel or parties after 2:00pm the same day unless otherwise ordered by the court. A party or attorney for a party can call Wednesday before 12:00pm (707-521-6650) or appear in person after 2:00pm to be informed of the status of the application. Applications submitted after 10:00am will not be heard until the following Wednesday. This procedure is available for emergency orders and/or orders urgently needed to prevent irreparable harm.

Opposition:Opposition papers may be submitted in person at the Sonoma County Court Clerk's Office, Probate Division. A copy of the opposition papers shall also be served by 10:00 a.m. on the day the ex parte application is filed. If service of the opposition papers is not possible, an ex parte declaration shall be filed providing the reasons for the lack of service.

Probate Tentative Rulings

Probate tentative rulings are usually available on the day before the hearing, after 2:00pm and Guardianships after 11:00 AM by calling (707) 521-6881, or by accessing the Tentative Ruling Website.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do we have to lodge a will with the court?

Probate Code section 8200(a) states that unless a petition for probate of the will is earlier filed, the custodian of a will shall, within 30 days after having knowledge of the death of the testator do the following: 1) deliver the will to the clerk of the superior court, and 2) mail a copy to the person named in the will as executor. We call this process "depositing a will for safekeeping". A receipt will be given to the person delivering a will at the time it is deposited with the court. Certified copies of the will may be obtained at any time once the will has been deposited with the court.

If a petition for probate is filed, the will should accompany the petition. Wills and probate cases are of great interest to genealogists. These documents are kept permanently by the court and are eventually transferred from paper to microfilm.

Delivery of will to the court in which the estate may be administered (Probate code 8200) requires a $50 fee (Government code 70626(d))

How do I get a hearing date on the probate calendar?

Dates for initial petitions for conservatorships and for conservatorship accountings are provided by the Probate Court Investigators Office by calling (707) 521-6586. Your papers must be filed by the close of business on the 22nd day (a Wednesday) prior to the hearing. In all other matters, petitioners will be assigned a hearing date from the probate clerk at the time of the filing.

How do I get guardianship for a child?

Information about guardianship can be found here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/1023.htm Forms for guardianship may be found here: guardianship_packet

How do I obtain a small estate affidavit?

A small estate affidavit (see Probate Code §13100, et seq.) may be used in certain circumstances. Click on this link for more information and a sample form: http://www.courts.ca.gov/partners/equalaccess.htm

How do you get a legal name change?

In order to legally change your name a judge must sign an order granting your request for change of name. This happens in one of two ways:

  1. You wish to change your name for a reason other than divorce:
    A petition for change of name must be filed with the court and notice published in an adjudicated newspaper. This process takes 6 to 8 weeks to complete. Forms for this purpose along with some information are located here.
  2. A divorce has been granted and you wish to return to a name used prior to your marriage:
    Complete Judicial Council form FL-395. Give the completed form to the court for processing in your divorce case. There is a nominal fee required for processing the order, however this is much quicker and less expensive than filing a petition for change of name. Be sure to include 2 copies of your completed form and a self addressed, stamped envelope so we can return your signed order to you. You may wish to include fees for certified copies. ($15.00 to certify + $.50 per page to copy) Click here to access a copy of form FL-395 which you may fill in: http://www.courts.ca.gov/xbcr/cc/fl395.pdf

If you need additional information about changing your name, click here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/xbcr/cc/fl395.pdf

How much is a certified copy?

$25.00 to certify the document plus $0.50 per page to copy.

What does one do to become Executor? How do I get Letters Testamentary?

In order to become an Executor, several things must happen.

  1. The will must nominate a person to act as Executor;
  2. A petition for probate must be filed asking the court to admit the will for probate and to appoint the nominated Executor to act.
  3. A judge must grant the petition for probate.

Letters Testamentary is the document giving the executor the power to act when marshalling the assets, paying the creditors and distributing the remaining assets. Letters will be issued after a judge has signed an order granting the petition for probate. You can learn more about probate at: http://www.courts.ca.gov/partners/equalaccess.htm

What is Probate?

Probate is the court-supervised process for identifying and gathering the decedent's assets, paying taxes, debts and expenses and then distributing the balance to beneficiaries.

A petition for probate is generally required when the gross value of the estate exceeds $100,000 and there is no (1) surviving spouse, or (2) there is a surviving spouse who is not the sole beneficiary or is receiving the property in a trust.

The estate can be intestate or testate. Special terms relate to each of these.

Testate = A Will exists – assets pass to devisees pursuant to terms of the will

  • Persons who inherit are called Devisees
  • The person administering the estate is called an Executor
  • The document giving the Executor the power to act is called Letters Testamentary

Intestate = No will exists – assets pass to heirs pursuant to state law

  • Persons who inherit are called heirs
  • The person administering the estate is called an Administrator
  • The document giving the Administrator the power to act is called Letters of Administration
What is the minimum monetary requirement for filing a probate? Do we have to file a probate?

In general, an estate with a gross value of less than $100,000 does not require a formal probate proceeding. There are summary procedures that may be used in certain instances. As with most other things in life, there are exceptions. An attorney is the best person to answer this question.

Where can I get a list of the adjudicated newspapers?

The County Clerk maintains the list of adjudicated newspapers. Click here to access the list: http://www.sonoma-county.org/Clerk/HTML_Documents/Search/Frameset_Search.htm

Why do I have to publish in a newspaper?

The legislature has determined that publication is an effective means of giving notice of legal actions to the public. For this reason certain legal procedures require publication of notice in an adjudicated newspaper. For example, when a person petitions the court to change their name, the law requires the Order to Show Cause be published so the public can respond if it so chooses. When the estate of a deceased person is probated, one of the required methods for notice to heirs and creditors is by publication.

© 2019 Superior Court of Sonoma County