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Preparing for Probate Court

On TV an attorney just picks up the file and heads to the Courthouse right? They usually have no other cases so it makes it very easy to focus on that one case, with one opposing attorney, the one Judge, the one court room at the one courthouse.  In real life attorneys have a lot of clients (hopefully).  As an attorney with a successful probate law practice I have a lot of clients in probates, trust petitions, and other probate court matters. I know the basics on every single file I have but I don’t know all the details. This is where preparing for Court comes in….

Most probate court calendars are in the morning.  9:00 seems to be a very popular time around the state; although a few are 8:30 and a few others are 9:30. Having said that, today I have a probate Court hearing at 1:00 in the new courthouse in Roseville of Placer county; the Santucci Justice Center. Thus, I normally prepare for Court the afternoon before. This morning I will be preparing for my 1:00 hearing.

Today’s matter is a final accounting, or final petition, in a litigated probate that has gone on for about 3 years. I represent the Administrator of the estate who came in after about a year. It’s a long story, and not relevant for today’s blog post, but basically a will was found and then world war III broke out. This is all in the public record, at the courthouse, so I am speaking of any private matters. My client’s job was to protect the estate during the litigation while the two sides litigated the issues. With this as a background the accounting today is more complex than normal.

The file is about 4 feet high, stacked on my floor, and no I will not go through all of those papers before Court today.  Rather I will go through the main documents. I will review the accounting petition to refresh myself on the main facts in case the Judge has any questions. There are a few specific areas of the accounting I will focus on to make sure I have a really good understanding of them. I will also review the proof of service, on the Notice of Hearing form, to see who was put on notice to remind me of the players in this case. If I have any questions I may contact my client but that’s rare as usually my last review is just that refresher for me to be ready at Court.

This review is 10 or 15 minutes in an easy case and an hour or more in a complex case. The key is putting this one probate case at the forefront of my mind this afternoon at 1:00 to make sure I am ready if the Judge has any questions for me.

I know I have filed everything I was supposed to so I am confident everything is in order.

If you want to know how I would handle your probate case let’s talk.

-John

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10.0John Bernard Palley
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