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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 12:00 PM Mon-Fri
Ex partes regarding these matters are heard before the Probate judge
Emergency Ex Parte’s for Conservatorships, Decedent’s Estates, Guardianships of the Estate, and Trust matters:
AThis procedure is available for emergency orders and/or orders urgently needed to prevent irreparable harm or immediate danger to a person or property. 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, during normal business hours or e-filed. The application must be submitted before 10:00 am. Orders will be available for pick-up or electronically returned to counsel or parties after 2:00 pm the same day unless otherwise ordered by the court. Please refer to Local Rule 6.2.H.
Non-Emergency “Drop-Off Ex Parte Matter” for Conservatorships, Decedent’s Estates, Guardianships of the Estate, and Trust matters:
This procedure is available for non-emergency orders and/or orders that do not have urgent needs to prevent irreparable harm or immediate danger to a person or property. 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, during normal business hours or e-filed. The application must include “Drop-Off Ex Parte Matter” on the caption of the pleadings. Orders will be available for pick-up or electronically returned to counsel or parties after 2:00 pm on the day which is five (5) court days after the request is presented unless otherwise ordered by the court. Please refer to Local Rule 6.2.H.
Opposition: Opposition papers may be submitted in person at the Sonoma County Court Clerk's Office, Probate Division, or via e-File by 10:00 a.m. on the day the ex parte application is presented. 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 are usually available on the day before the hearing, after 2:00 PM and Guardianships after 11:00 AM by calling (707) 521-6607, or by accessing the Tentative Ruling Website.
- 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?
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?
- 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 can I obtain copies of court records?
To fill out an online form to request copies of court records or a records search, please click on this link.
- What does one do to become Executor? How do I get Letters Testamentary?
In order to become an Executor, several things must happen.
- The will must nominate a person to act as Executor;
- A petition for probate must be filed asking the court to admit the will for probate and to appoint the nominated Executor to act.
- 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 $166,250 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.