The California Petition for Probate – A Primer

One of the first documents that must be prepared and filed in any probate in California is the Petition for Probate. The Judicial Council of California has prepared a mandatory form for the Petition for Probate: DE-111.

This petition is the formal request for the court to open a probate for a particular person. This is a complicated petition that even attorneys often fill out wrong. It’s best to retain an experienced trust and probate attorney to take care of these forms for you.

The form requests a great deal of very specific information regarding the decedent: name or names the person went by; date of death; address at time of death; names of close relatives. The form also asks more complicated questions: about the decedent’s estate planning, or lack thereof; about whether a bond is required; and for the basis for priority for nomination of the personal representative. If any part of the petition is not clear, or not complete, the petition may be delayed or dismissed by the court clerks.

The key request of the petition for probate is the request for the court to appoint a particular person as the personal representative of the estate. “Personal Representative” is an umbrella term for the person who represents the estate. If the decedent had a will that nominated the personal representative, that person will be called the “Executor”. If not, then that person will be called the “Administrator”. The powers and responsibilities of the executor and administrator are the same.

Our firm handles probate proceedings all over the Bay Area: San Francisco, Alameda, Marin, San Mateo, and further afield. As Bay Area probate attorneys, we know the ins and outs of the different probate departments and their particular preferences and local forms.