When individuals are already in a vulnerable emotional state after losing a loved one, the prospect of probate can be overwhelming. Just thinking about the process can make you and your family nervous. Considering the initial probate hearing can make you feel even more so.
It is natural to feel uncertain in this situation, but here is a brief overview of what these hearings generally involve to ease some of your family’s stress about this process.
What is the purpose of the hearing?
The initial hearing is an essential part of the probate process.
Any court hearing can cause you to feel uneasy, but this hearing is a formal step that allows the probate court to:
- Affirm the petition to probate the estate, and therefore provide the Order of Probate
- Ask the personal representative about the information provided in the petition and paperwork to ensure everything is correct
- Issue the Letters of Administration, granting the personal representative the authority and ability to execute the will and establish the timeline of the process
There are some cases when the court orders a continuance to review information or details of the estate, but the purpose of the hearing generally remains the same. The rules or requirements surrounding these hearings can vary at the local level, but this is generally what you and your family can expect from the probate hearing.
Remember: Two steps are necessary before the first hearing
Essentially, the hearing allows the court to confirm everything is in order to probate the estate. However, there are a few steps that the personal representative must take to ensure this first hearing can carry on smoothly.
They will have to:
- Provide official notification to the beneficiaries and other interested parties at least 15 days before the hearing, and provide proof of this notice to the probate court
- Give proper public notice according to California law and obtain the Affidavit of Public Notice for the court
Public notice is essential because one of the other purposes – and formalities – of the initial hearing is to allow any interested parties to attend and make a claim to the estate.
The thought of a court hearing can be stressful, but understanding what to expect can help families move forward with confidence.