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The Probate Court deals directly with the everyday personal and financial matters of San Franciscans. Most people think of probate courts as working exclusively with wills and the financial affairs of people who have died. However, the Probate Court also deals with guardianships of children, conservatorships of adults, mental health treatment, trusts, elder abuse and dependent adult restraining orders. The Judge and staff of the San Francisco Probate Court are committed to the administration of justice with thoughtfulness and concern for the citizens of San Francisco.
Online Services -- Probate
- Access Probate cases online
- Probate Tentative Rulings may be obtained online one to three days before the hearing. Rulings on motions are available by 3 p.m. the court day prior to the motion. Call (415) 551-4000 to obtain tentative rulings by phone.
Hearing dates for all appearance matters are assigned by the filing clerk at the time the petition is filed. Other hearing times are:
- Appearance Hearings for Probate Matters other than Appointment of Guardians and Conservators, and Motions:
9 a.m. on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in Department 204. Order in which matters usually are heard:
- Petitions for confirmation of sale
- All other matters
- 10:30 a.m. - appearances by telephone, including visitation issues and follow-up status reports (through CourtCall, 1-888-882-6878)
- Petitions for Appointment of Guardian: 1 p.m. on Tuesday in - Department 204 (These matters require an appearance.)
- Petitions for Appointment of Conservator, including other personal care issues such as placement: 9 a.m. on Thursday in Department 204 (These matters require an appearance.)
- Requests for Restraining Orders to Stop Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse: 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday in Department 204 (These matters require an appearance.)
- Ex Parte matters: 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. -- Monday through Friday, in Room 202.
- Law and Motion Calendar: Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, and Fridays, in Department 204. To schedule a motion, call (415) 551-3702.
- Pre-Granted Orders are available in Room 103, Windows 24, 25, and 26 after 9:30 a.m. on the day of the hearing.
Fees Forms, Rules, and Standing Orders
- Statewide Civil Fee Schedule
- Fee Schedule for Prior Years
- State Forms
- Local Forms
- Rules of Court
- Standing Orders
If a Judge decides that an adult cannot safely handle personal or financial affairs or both, the Judge may appoint an individual or an agency to manage the adult’s affairs under Court supervision.
In California, there are two types of guardianships for children. The first type is connected with the Juvenile Dependency Court. In those cases, a child has been removed from the home by a Child Protective Services social worker because there is information that the child is being neglected, abused, or is in danger. The other type of guardianship is handled by the Probate Court. In these guardianships, the child lives with the person who is the guardian.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What does the Probate Judge do?
- The Judge of the Probate Department hears cases in the courtroom and administers the policies and procedures for this specialized court in San Francisco. The Probate Judge appoints people and at times institutions and agencies, to act as administrators and executors of wills, as trustees, as guardians of children, and as conservators of adults who cannot handle their own affairs. The Court also supervises these matters and reviews and approves the fees that are charged. In each probate matter, the Judge must apply the law, taking into account the views of all the people involved, the evidence that has been offered and the reports prepared by staff. The Judge must consider what is fair and in the best interests of the people who are involved.
- What staff members help the Judge on my case?
- The Judge is assisted by an administrative staff, examiners and investigators, a lawyer from the Court's attorney staff, courtroom clerks, clerks who receive and process the documents filed by attorneys and the public, and by a bailiff in the courtroom. Examiners review all the petitions in the estates of deceased people, trusts, conservatorships and guardianships. They make certain that the law has been followed and that the accountings are accurate. The investigators go out into the community to see how people are doing, to inform them of their rights, and to report their circumstances, wishes, and concerns to the Judge.
- What happens if I can’t afford the costs associated with my probate duties?
- The San Francisco Probate Department offers several low cost or no cost programs to assist people in their responsibilities as administrators, executors, trustees, conservators and guardians. Videos and handbooks help clarify the responsibilities of guardians and conservators. Free mediation programs help conflicted families and others air and resolve their differences privately with the help of a trained mediator. People who have been appointed guardians receive help from a voluntary community program. Under the auspices of the Court, private professional conservators teach classes to family members and friends who have been appointed conservators.
- American probate law is based on English law. The focus of probate law has changed over the centuries. Initially, probate laws centered on the estates or finances of adults who were incapacitated or deceased. The law addressed two issues: the payment of creditors and the collection of taxes for the King. During that time, the physical care of an incapacitated adult was thought to be the business of the family, not the government. People with no family were relegated to poorly-run institutions or to the streets. Those with mental health problems were labeled "lunatics" because it was thought that mental illness was related to the cycles of the moon ("lunar"). Developmentally disabled people were labeled "idiots." Adults who lost the mental capacity to function were termed "incompetents." These terms are no longer used in California. Over the years, probate laws directed at the assets of deceased people changed to ensure that beneficiaries of wills received the assets the deceased person meant them to have. In the 20th century, probate laws were passed that focused on the personal welfare of incapacitated adults.
Contact Us, Hours & Directions
Judge Mary E. Wiss, Supervising Judge
Judge Lillian K. Sing
400 McAllister St.
San Francisco, CA 94102-4514
Probate Department - Room 202
Judge, Examiners (415) 551-3650
Director, Investigators (415) 551-3657
Courtroom Clerk (415) 551-3702
Calendar Clerk (415) 551-3662
Court Supervisor (415) 551-3924
Clerk of Court Probate Section Room 103
Filing Windows 24, 25 and 26.
8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Court holidays
- Legal Assistance to the Elderly (415) 538-3333
- Adult Protective Services (415) 557-5230
- Child Protective Services (415) 558-2660