Estate executors also have other responsibilities, many of which are time-sensitive. Since executors can be penalized for inadvertently mismanaging an estate, they may elect to ask an experienced California probate attorney for assistance.

Cases the CA Probate Court Hears

When most people think of probate courts, they imagine will proceedings, estate contests, and trust challenges. While the Golden State’s Probate Division does have jurisdiction over most estate-related disputes, it also hears the following types of cases:

Estate management

The most common task of the probate court is overseeing the dissolution of estates. When a California resident passes away—with or without a will—their remaining assets, or their estate, must be redistributed in accordance with state law. Ordinarily, this means disbursing inheritances to the heirs named in the deceased person’s last will and testament. However, if the decedent did not write a will, establish a trust, or create an estate plan, the court may consider the deceased person’s next-of-kin as their presumptive heirs.

Trust administration

Under most circumstances, any asset transferred to the control of a living trust or testamentary trust is not subject to probate. However, the probate courts do adjudicate trust challenges, which could relate to the terms of a trust, the trust’s administration, or another trust-related dispute.

Conservatorship claims

In a conservatorship case, the court may appoint an individual—the conservator—to oversee the finances and care of an older adult or an incapacitated adult. Conservators are considered fiduciaries and have a legal obligation to act in the best interests of their ward.

Guardianship affairs

The court may appoint or authorize the appointment of a guardian for a minor child if the child’s parents have passed away or are no longer able to care for them.

While the Probate Division has authority over a decedent’s California assets, executors and other estate representatives may have to file probate petitions in other states if the decedent owned assets in another jurisdiction.


Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 40 years.