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Who is entitled to notice in a California Probate case?

It’s not always crystal clear who is entitled to notice in a California probate case. Let’s start with a basic premise that over-noticing is probably better than under-noticing. If it’s a gray area, in the notice rules, I usually suggest you give notice.

Basic Rule #1: If there is a will give notice to every single person named in the will.

Basic Rule #2: If there is a trust give notice to every single person named in the trust.

Ok, those two rules are easy. Who else is entitled to notice?

California probate code 1206 says to give notice to all “heirs.”  Ok, then who are “heirs?”

California probate code 248 et seq talks about heirs and who is entitled to notice. Basically it’s family tree on down. So let’s say there are 3 children. All 3 children get notice. Let’s say one child dies leaving four kids of his own. Then the 2 kids get notice and the 4 grandkids. Plus, if any of them are minors then the minor’s guardian gets notice. This leads to the most important rule of probate Court notice:

Basic Rule #3: Give notice to all potential recipients of the estate, as if there was no will, even if there is a will or trust.  Let me repeat, ALL!

Ok, what if there is step child do they get notice? Probate code 1207 would suggest in the negative unless there is reason to be believe they would have been adopted.

What about a step-sibling of the decedent? Oh boy, this is a tough one for people. The toughest thing in all of the rules of intestate succession. If a person dies with no kids and money is to be distributed to their siblings half-bloods (even if they NEVER met them) are the same as full bloods. Yes, really. (See probate code 6406).

What about a child of a decedent born after the decedent dies? You think I am joking!? See California probate code section 249.5. It’s a long probate section about this exact situation. Yes, really!

I have give you 3 basic rules and a few other tidbits. The key is talk to a good attorney and keep yourself out of trouble!

-John

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