I am a frequent lecturer, to other attorneys, in the area of probate and estate planning. A lot of people of questions on the California Probate Inventory. Here are my notes from a 2008 lecture I gave on this topic:
Contact me with questions or visit our probate website at www.californiaprobate.info for more information
The Probate Process From Start to Finish
- MANAGING THE INVENTORY
9:40 – 10:00 John B. Palley
- Statutory Requirements and How They Affect Your Case
- The Inventory and Appraisal is to be filed within four months after Letters are issued to a general personal representative (PC 8800) unless further time is granted by the Court. While most Courts do not enforce this rule (with some noted exceptions) it is a good idea to follow this rule so that your client is in compliance with the rules detailing their job. Sample “I and A” is attached as Exhibit JBP-1.
- Additionally, when filing the inventory, the PR, also is required to certify that a change in ownership statement has been filed with theCountyAssessor(or Recorder in some cases) in each county in which the decedent owned real property or certify that such a filing is not required because the decedent owned no such property.
- Additionally, when filing the inventory, the attorney, is required to state if the bond on file in the case is sufficient to cover the assets being inventoried. If the bond is insufficient, immediately file an ex parte request for an order increasing the bond to a satisfactorily level.
- Some assets can be “valued” by the PR and some have to be valued by a probate referee. Most Courts automatically appoint a probate referee with each case. However, there are some Courts which make you petition for a probate referee; among others,Los Angeles, requires you to ask for one in writing. Attached as Exhibit JBP-2.
- I often use partial inventories to help keep the process moving along. For example, the I and A, Partial No. 1, may have assets that need to be appraised by the probate referee. I might file other items on the Partial No. 2. This way I give the probate referee a chance to do her job and I still give my client a good chance of getting an inventory on file within four months.
- However, pursuant to PC 8800(c) all inventories are supposed to be filed within four months unless the Court grants relief from this requirement. In my experience, the Court will typically grant a 60-90 day continuance merely by asking in the form of an ex-parte petition or in Court if the Court has calendared a follow up date for the inventory as some Courts do.
- Some Courts even require an inventory to be filed which is called a “final” inventory. That is, filing one, two or more “partial” inventories within four months may not meet the Court’s requirements and I have filed zero balance “final” inventories to show there are no additional assets and that the partial inventories already filed are all of the known assets.
- A “supplemental” or “correctory” inventory can always be filed at a later date to update the Court and other interested parties.
- It is important to put everybody on notice who has filed a request for special notice, by sending them a copy of a filed inventory.
- In summary, the types of Inventories you may file:
- Partial – Used to appraise some of the assets when it is likely another inventory will be needed later.
- Final – Technically the one that must be filed within four months of Letters being issued. In fact, not used in every case.
- Supplemental – Often used late in the process, generally after a “final” I and A has been filed for a late found asset.
- Corrected – Used to correct a previous inventory that was filed wrong. Could be used to show an asset didn’t actually exist, was valued wrong, etc…. It’s good practice to explain what is being corrected.
- Reappraisal forSale– If it has been more than one year since death it is sometimes required that a property be re-appraised before the sale can be confirmed.
- Property Tax Certificate - A requirement in certain counties.
- Send a copy of the Inventory to those who request special notice as it is an item that is often of interest to interested parties.
PRACTICE POINTER: Make sure to calendar your four month date for the inventory to be filed and make sure that at least a partial inventory is on file by that date to show your client is attempting to comply with the probate code. You never want to expose your client to a petition for removal (or suspension of powers) and filing all of the little rules helps prevent such a removal petition!