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The probate examiner is an individual employed by the court to review your initial petition for probate and any other common probate documents such as the de-121 and de-140 before they are submitted to the court to ensure they are compliant with state and court rules.
Part of this review process involves the examiner creating a written summary known as probate notes (or probate examiner notes), but more on that below.
Throughout the probate process, the probate examiner reviews all documents related to your case and creates a summary analyzing deficiencies in those documents.
The deficiencies outlined by the probate examiner can range from simply forgetting to fill in a section to missing an important probate step (such as notifying creditors) or forms you have forgotten or failed to submit.
Some examples of notes you may see on your probate case:
"Need to file 15-day mailed notice of hearing and copy of the petition to relatives of the proposed conservatee name in the petition (PC 1822)"
"Petitioner seeks the following powers under PC 1873 or 1903: However, no attached is affixed to the petition. need to file verified supplement to specify specific powers, facts and reasons for specific powers"
These notes are also used to inform the judge of important information such as:
The parties involved
The type of relief they are seeking
Objections and reports of the documents presented
Information within the documents that the court may need clarification on
Probate notes will be updated throughout your probate case - it's best practice to check probate notes 2-3 weeks before your scheduled probate hearing.
Ok, so I know what probate notes are...
But how do I access them?
Given this digital age, accessing probate notes is relatively simple. Many courts now post their notes online. Below are links to probates notes in common county courts in California:
Los Angeles County Examiner Notes
San Bernardino County Examiner Notes
San Diego County Examiner Notes
San Francisco County Examiner Notes
If your court does not have an online option, call them or head to the court in person to bring your concerns face-to-face. It is crucial to continually follow up with your court so that any limitation dates are not missed.
If you just submitted your petition for probate, checking the court’s site for any updates every week while the hearing date is weeks away is a good practice. Once you get within 2-3 weeks of the hearing date, we recommend checking every day, as some courts update their probate notes every hour during business hours.
In the event that the examiner left notes identifying deficiencies, do not panic. Probate notes are a common and important part of the entire process.
To clear these notes you will need to submit a "verified supplement" which is your written response to a question in the probate note correcting any deficiencies the examiner noted. This verified supplement is subject under penalty of perjury.
Some counties use a designated form, such as Orange County's RESPONSE TO PROBATE NOTES #L-1332 and Los Angeles County SUPPLEMENT TO CLEAR PROBATE NOTES
It’s important to note that any documents drafted to clear the examiner’s notes will need to be submitted at least five days before your probate hearing. Note that any days the court is closed do not count toward that five-day count.
Once your probate notes have been cleared and with a fresh probate case you can file a notice for hearing using form DE-120.
Because these issues may not be cleared on the first try, it is prudent to ensure you have at least a week before your hearing and the time you submitted your supplement to clear probate notes.
For example, here is how to access and clear your probate notes in Orange County:
1. Visit occourts.org
2. Select the "Online Services" tab
3. Scroll down and click on the "Probate notes" link under the "online services" tab
4. Once on the probate notes page on occourts.org, you can search for your probate notes by entering the full case #
5. Complete a supplement to clear probate notes by responding, in the order in which the notes were received and providing direct answers/new or amended forms.
6. With a cleared probate case, file a notice of hearing using form DE-120 to move to the next part of the probate process.
Depending on your county, probate notes are usually posted 3 weeks before a probate hearing
For example, Orange County typically uploads its probate notes on occourts.org 3 weeks before the hearing, whereas Los Angeles county usually posts its probate notes on lacourt.org 5 days before the hearing.
and are updated at these times:
Monday through Friday:
9:10 a.m., 10:10 a.m., 11:10 a.m., 12:10 p.m., 1:10 p.m., 2:10 p.m., 3:10 p.m., 4:10 p.m., 5:10 p.m., and 6:10 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 6:10 p.m. only
Dealing with probate examiner notes can feel extremely stressful, especially after the loss of a loved one. Rather than dealing with missed court dates, mountains of paperwork, and frustrating multiple corrections, you can hire an estate professional to increase your chances of success exponentially.
Our roster of veteran and cutting-edge estate professionals are experts at correcting probate notes and ensuring that you don’t miss important hearing dates. Talk to one of our probate experts today - we'd love to help.
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