May. 27, 2015

Probate Examiner's Office Monthly Updates

spring 2015 update

Our new examiner starts March 19, 2015.  We are really looking forward to having five fulltime examiners again.
I will be presenting a free, informal lunchtime seminar on April 7, 2015 in Room 617 of the San Francisco Superior Court located at 400 McAllister Street from 12:00-1:00 p.m. to discuss tips for efficient practice in San Francisco. Topics to be covered are Status Hearings, Timing of Filing Responses to Examiner's Notes, and Courtesy Copies. 
A reminder that the Judicial council adopted new forms effective 1/1/2015.  
DE-142/DE111 Waiver of Bond - MANDATORY
DE-226 Spousal/Domestic Partner Property Order - MANDATORY
DE-265/CG-065 Order Confirming Sale of Real Property - MANDATORY
DE-305 Affidavit re Real Property of Small value ($50,000 or less) - MANDATORY
DE-315 Order Determining Succession to Real Property/
And Personal Property (Estate of $150,000 or Less) - MANDATORY
GC-150 Letters of Temporary Guardianship/Conservatorship Person/Estate - MANDATORY
GC-350 Letters of Conservatorship - MANDATORY
GC-400(B)/GC-405(B) Schedule B, Gains on Sales – Standard and Simplified Accounts - OPTIONAL
GC-400(D)/GC-405(D) Schedule D, Losses on Sales – Standard and Simplified Accounts – OPTIONAL
Please note -- To make sure that your orders and filings are timely processed, please be sure to use the new mandatory forms.  

FALL 2014 update

Highlights from the BASF Luncheon on October 3, 2014 
Privacy Concerns:
All bank account numbers and social security numbers should be redacted in documents filed with the court.  It is the duty of the parties and attorney to make sure those numbers are redacted (see CRC 1.20).
We are seeing more motions to seal due to failure to redact the numbers.  In order for the court to grant those motions, it must make specific findings (see CRC 2.550).
The court cannot redact the numbers after the pleading has been filed nor can it extract single pages from filed documents.  The entire document must be sealed and re-filed with the redacted numbers.
If the court does grant the motion, the order only affects the court’s server.  If the document was e-filed, the attorney must also contact the e-filing service provider, alert them to the order and ask them to do whatever is necessary on their system to seal the document from public view.
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status Petitions:
It is estimated that as many as 250 juveniles per month arrive in San Mateo, San Francisco, and Alameda County.
Our court has seen a significant increase in guardianship petitions that include a related petition to find the minor eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.  These petitions now total half of all guardianship petitions filed in San Francisco.
This very complex area of the law continues to be the topic of robust debate among probate lawyers, judges and practitioners.
New Policy on Status Hearings for Closing Estates:
Effective immediately, if the court sets a status hearing for failure to close an estate within the statutory guidelines, an appearance at that hearing is mandatory.  Continuance requests will not be granted prior to the appearance on the assigned date.
Calendar Issues:
Due to reduced staff and the holiday season, the time delay between filing a petition and having it heard is increasing rapidly.  We expect to be back to full staff by mid-March, at which time the delay should quickly return to just about 6 weeks.  We appreciate your patience and understanding during these months.
For services provided on or after January 1, 2015, the court will approve rates of up to $145 per hour for licensed private professional fiduciaries and up to $45 per hour for other fiduciaries.


Drop Off Ex Parte Petitions
After filing, courtesy copies of ex parte petitions should be left with the probate filing clerk in Room 103 along with the proposed order.
The ex parte petitions are delivered to the Assistant Director on Tuesday mornings, at which time they are distributed to the Examiners.  
If you have a petition that requires expedited review, you may attach a Request for Expedited Review (blue sheet) to your courtesy copy.  Attaching that sheet will ensure that your petition is delivered to the Assistant Director that same day.  The blue sheet must show the urgent nature of the request.
If the court determines the subject of the petition is not appropriate for ex parte review, counsel will be notified and the matter will have to be re-filed as a fully noticed petition.
Review and Response:
Examiners review the ex parte petitions within two weeks of receiving them from the Assistant Director, time permitting.  If the petition is in order, it will be sent to the judge for review and signing of the order.
If further information is required or the Examiner requests additional documentation, notes will be sent and the petitioner will be asked to file a response.  The Examiner will keep the petition for two weeks for the filing of that response.  If no response is received within 2 weeks, the petition is either returned to the attorney (if a self-addressed stamped envelope is provided) or put in the file boxes in the lobby of Room 202 (in the “pick-up”) folder.  If the petition is not picked up within 2 weeks of being put in that folder, it is moved to the reject bin, which is cleared out periodically.
Stipulations and Orders:
This court does not favor combined Stipulation and Orders.
Please file the Stipulation separately.  After it’s filed, an endorsed filed copy of the Stipulation and the Proposed Order shall be left with the filing clerk in Room 103.

July 2014 update

Filing Requirements:
As announced at the BASF June 2014 lunch presentation, as of July 1, 2014, the clerks are only accepting petitions for filing that conform to California Rule of Court 2.111 and Local Rule 14.17.
California Rule of Court 2.111 requires the attorney to provide his or her bar number, contact information and to properly title the case.  Remember, if you include your email address, you may get Examiner notes by email!
Common issues that have come up under this rule:
    • Failure to include attorney bar number;
    • Failure to properly name your case, e.g., using "Jane Doe vs. Ed Smith," instead of "Estate of John Doe."
Local Rule 14.17 states that the identification must show the name and capacity of the party for whom the attorney is appearing, e.g., John Jones, Executor. "Petitioner" or "Respondent" is not sufficient. 
Common issues that have come up under this rule are:
  • Identifying the client only as "Petitioner;"
  • Identifying the client only as "Jane Doe."
Properly naming your case and identifying your client will be a great help to the filing clerks, the Examiners, and the judicial officers.  

June 2014 Update

Welcome to the first in a series of monthly updates from the Court. Here you will find helpful information about topics trending in the Probate Department, policy changes and changes in the law. The subject of this month's update is appointment of probate referees and related notes of interest:

    • We still receive requests for appointment of probate referees in probate cases. Please remember that as of January 1, 2013, probate referees are assigned on the Order for Probate.
      • The local forms Request for Appointment of Probate Referee and Order Appointing Referee are only needed if a referee was not appointed in the Order for Probate or if a referee is needed for some other reason (the assigned referee retired, moved to a different county, you did not get a referee assigned when you established a conservatorship, but now realize you need one, etc.).
    • When sending the inventory to the referee, please verify that you have the current address for that referee. The referees welcome phone calls confirming their address. 
    • Please provide a copy of the order appointing the referee to the referee when you mail the inventory to the referee. 
    • Do NOT amend or revise the inventory once you have received it back from the referee, even if the only change is to Attachment One. Referees are audited and their records must match the filed inventories. The referees are happy to provide you with an amended inventory upon request. 

Please check back next month for more updates from our office. 

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