Many Probate Court cases require the filing of multiple printed legal forms, in addition to documents that must be prepared in pleading format according to California Rules of Court, rule 2.100 . The printed legal forms are revised frequently, so make sure you have the most current forms. The forms are available at the locations above and can be printed from this web site. They are also available from the Judicial Council web site. You must read the forms very carefully and answer each question and fill in each blank if it applies to your particular estate. You must also be careful to include any attachments that are required by a particular form. Filing incomplete or incorrect forms can result in a delay in having your case approved, and you will be required by the Judge to file amendments or supplements to your documents until the Court has all the information it needs.
Cost of Filing and Responding to Complaints
A fee schedule is available online and at the Clerk's Office.
Role of Court Staff
An understanding of the various court staff members who will be involved with your case and the different roles that each plays will help you obtain the information you need to make sure your case moves smoothly through the Probate Court.
The Probate Legal Process Clerk files the documents submitted in decedents' estates, guardianship of minors, and conservatorship of adult cases. The Legal Process Clerk cannot give legal advice but can help determine what forms you may need and verify available hearing dates.
Probate Examiners review all documents for content and legal requirements before such matters are acted on by the Court at calendared hearings or on ex parte applications, thereby substantially reducing the judicial time required to hear probate cases. The Probate Examiner will post probate notes on the court's website for all calendared matters they have reviewed, approximately one week prior to the scheduled hearing date. It is the party’s responsibility to regularly check the website for the probate notes for their specific case. Click here to be directed to the probate notes on the Tentative Rulings page. Deficiencies may be cured by filing verified supplements/amendments pursuant to local rule 1721(c)(2)(2). Documents submitted later than 5:00 p.m., three (3) court days prior to the hearing date, may not be considered. A continuance must be secured pursuant to Local Rule 1722(a)(1). If the deficiencies are not cured, and a continuance is not properly secured, then appearances are required.
You may contact the Probate Examiners at ProbateExaminer@sbcourts.org for clarification about a specific posted probate note or when directed by the judge only. Please include the case number, hearing date, and the specific probate note needing clarification.
E-mails containing attachments or documents for filing will be ignored. You may not contact the Probate Examiners for legal advice.
In matters involving cases of Conservatorship of the Person only, or Guardianship of the Person only (not of the estate) in northern Santa Barbara County, the Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Act grant program makes available the services of a Probate Facilitator at no cost to the parties. The Probate Facilitator is a licensed attorney who assists self-represented litigants in such cases with Petitions, Objections, Terminations, Visitation, Successors, Fee Waivers, Notice and Service, Annual Status Reports and more. The Probate Facilitator does not represent anyone in court.
Please contact the Probate Facilitator at 805-614-6622 or 805-614-6413 (Español). The office is located at 312 E. Cook Street, Building E, 2nd floor, in Santa Maria.
Probate Notes are posted under Tentative Rulings in the Online Services section.
The Court Investigators interview all persons who are the subject of a petition for conservatorship before the appointment is made, to determine if they understand the proceedings or have any objections. They also interview them periodically after the appointment to determine if they are being cared for properly.
They also investigate guardianships where the proposed guardian is a relative of the child. If the proposed guardian is not a relative, the local Child Welfare Services agency will perform the investigation.
The California State Controller appoints probate referees to perform reliable, prompt, and low-cost appraisal of all types of estate assets. The service of a probate referee is required for court resolution of an estate and also available for non-probate trust administration.
Ronald C. Bock
644 University Dr.
Lompoc, CA 93436
California Probate Referee
P.O. Box 2532
Orcutt, CA 93457
2684 Quail Valley Rd.
Solvang, CA 93463
Sometimes a printed form will ask for documents or additional information to be attached, or will refer to an Attachment. If an attachment is required, you should staple a complete copy of the required document or a separate piece of paper containing the necessary information to the printed form. You should identify each document at the bottom of the page to correspond to its respective item number on the printed form (for example: Attachment 3(a) or Attachment 10). If the attachment consists of information typed on a separate sheet of paper rather than a document (such as a decedent's will), you should also include the title of the printed form at the bottom of the page in case the pages are pulled apart and separated. If the attachment is part of an order to be signed by the judge, you should include a separate line for the date and the judge's signature at the end of the last page of the attachment.
All documents shall be electronically filed pursuant to Local Rule 1012.
An amendment may be filed as a separate document to correct incomplete or incorrect information in a document or printed form that has been filed with the Court. An Amendment should be prepared in pleading format with a title that identifies the document that is being amended (for example, Amendment to Petition for Appointment of Guardian of Minor). If the original document or printed form that is being amended was sworn to ("verified"), then the Amendment must also be verified. A sample Verification is included as part of this website.
A supplement is similar to an amendment and is used to add missing information that was not included in a document or printed form that has been filed with the Court. A Supplement should be prepared in the same manner as an Amendment.
If the amount of information to be corrected on a document or printed form is significant, it may be easier to file an Amended Petition that has been completely redone. An Amended Petition will usually require new notice to be given to interested persons, even if notice has already been given.
If there are problems with the documents that cannot be corrected prior to the hearing date, your hearing will have to be continued so that the problems can be corrected. See Local Rule 1722 for the procedures for requesting a continuance. Where notice of the scheduled hearing requires publication and publication has been completed, the probate judge will give you a new date in court.
Even if all of your documents are preapproved or found to comply with applicable law and procedural requirements, objections may be filed by interested persons who have received notice of the hearing date. Objections may be filed prior to the hearing (which we strongly recommend) or the objecting party may appear at the hearing to object to the petition. In the latter case, the probate judge will continue the hearing so that written objections may be filed. If you are filing an objection to a calendared petition within 10 days of the hearing date, you should request that the Legal Process Clerk route your filed Objections to the Probate Examiner and judge.