Step 1, The Petition for Probate -- It may look simple, but looks are deceiving
The first page of the Form DE-111 requires you to put your name and address at the top (this is where the attorney would put his or her name, or you put your own name and adress if you do not have an attorney). You then fill in the Court name and location.
In the "Petition For" box you need to know what type of probate you are doing. The first two boxes are for probate of wills. If you don't have a will, then you will want the third box called Letters of Administration. In most cases you will also want to mark the last box and ask for independent administration authority.
Boxes 1 through 3b -- Check the Correct Box
The Petition for Probate looks simple because you just check boxes, but its easy to miss a box or two along the way so be sure to check and double check your work.
Line 1 ask for publication information. You can check box b. that simply requires for publication to be arranged.
Line 2 requires that you name the Petitioner again (that's you if you the one filing the form). It then asks who is asking to be appointed as Executor or Administrator, put the name at the end of line 2.b.
Line 2.c. asks whether you want full or limited authoirity, always check full authority if you are not sure.
Line 2.d. requires information about he bond. If the Will waives bond, then just check the first box. Otherwise fill our lines 2 or 3.
Line 3 is self explanatory, just fill in details about the decedent's date of death and place of residence
Boxes 3c through 3e -- Estimate Value of the Estate
Line 3.c. askes about the estimated value of the estate. The exact value will be determined after probate is opened by the appointed probate appraiser. All you are doing here is making an educated guess. Put what you think is right and don't worry about how accurate it is becuase that will come later in the probate process.
Line 3.d lists the reason why bond is not required. If you do not meet one of the requirements listed to waive bond, then bond will be required.
Line 3.e asks if the decedent died "intestate" (that is without a Will) or if the decedent died with a Will, which then requires the specific Will information to be stated.
Boxes 3f through 4 -- The Personal Representative
Line 3.f requests information about the "Personal Representative", which is an all inclusive term that means anyone serving as executor, or administrator. An Executor is someone named in a Will, an Administrator is someone acting either without a Will or with the Will "annexed" (meaning they are administering the Will, but they were not named in the Will as Executor).
Line 3.f(1) are the boxes if a Will is involved--check the box that applies.
Line 3.f(2) are the boxes for intestate (no Will) estates. Check the box that applies.
Line 3.g asks about the Personal Representative's status as a resident of California and of the U.S.
Line 4 should be checked in all cases UNLESS the Will specifically states that the Independent Administration of Estates Act is precluded (very few Wills say this).
Boxes 5 through 7 -- The Most Confusing Part
Beging with Line 5, the Court must know who survived the Decedent. This Will determine who will receive notice of the Petition. You must check all boxes that apply.
Line 6 is very confusing. Note that it only applies if the decedent was survived by (1) a spouse or registered domestice partner BUT NO issue (this means children, grandchildren, etc.), or (2) no spouse, no registered domestic partner, or no issue. Double check this one to be sure you have it correct.
Line 7 only applies if no spouse and no issue survived the decedent.
Boxes 8 and 9 -- The Home Stretch
Line 8 requires that you list everyone (1) named in the Will, AND (2) named or checked in lines 2, 5, 6, and 7. You must name all people whether they are living or deceased (if they are deceased then so state). Notice that the list of names may be greater than those named in the Will as beneficiaries. All of these people MUST have notice before the Petition will be granted by the Court. Be careful not to leave anyone out as it will cause further delay in Court.
Line 9 asks for the number of attachments, such as a copy of the Will. Notice that you only attach a COPY of the Will. The original Will must be separately lodged with the Court at the time you file, or before you file, your Petition for Probate.
Other Required Forms
There are a number of other forms that must accompany your Petition for Probate, such as:
Notice of Petition to Administer Estate (Form DE-121)
Duties and Liabilities of Personal Representative (Form DE-147)
Order for Probate (Form DE-140)
Letters (Form DE-150)
Confidential Supplement (Form DE-147S)
Not every Court wants all of these documents up front (Riverside and San Bernardino Counties want them upon filing, but Los Angeles does not). Have them ready to go anyway, just in case. You will need all these forms eventually, so better to have them up front.
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