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California Probate, Will & Trust Lawyer > Blog > Probate > Reopening Probate in California

Reopening Probate in California


Probate is the process of settling a deceased person’s estate. It entails, among other things, identifying and locating the decedent’s assets, appraising the assets, paying creditor debts, and distributing the remaining assets to beneficiaries. Probate can be a lengthy and complex process. Once this process is closed, it is generally considered finalized. However, in some circumstances, it is possible to reopen a California probate. There are several reasons why someone would want to reopen probate, but it is crucial to keep in mind that probate cannot be reopened for just any reason. If you are considering reopening a California probate, you should contact a qualified probate attorney for legal guidance. An attorney can help you determine if you have a valid reason for requesting to reopen the probate. They can help you file the necessary petition.

How Can You Reopen Probate in California?

In California, there are two ways one can reopen probate. First, a party can file a Petition for Subsequent Administration (Section 12252 of the California Probate Code). Second, one can file a Petition for Instructions (Section 9611 of the California Probate Code). A Petition for Instructions can be filed only by the estate’s personal representative. In contrast, a Petition for Subsequent Administration can be filed by any party with a legal interest in the estate. Most scenarios where a probate would need to be reopened in California are pursued under California Probate Code Section 12252.

Valid Grounds for Reopening Probate in California

When you file a Petition for Subsequent Administration pursuant to Section 12252, you must include your reasons for reopening the probate in the petition. The following are some of the valid grounds for reopening a California probate;

The Discovery of New Property

The express ground for reopening a California probate stated under California Probate Code Section 12252, is the discovery of other property. Because it is the express ground stated under the statute, petitioning to reopen probate because new assets have been discovered should be relatively straightforward. However, when new assets belonging to the decedent are discovered, reopening probate may not be automatically necessary. If the order for final distribution addresses how newly acquired property should be disposed of, distribution should be made in accordance with the order.

Discovery of Debt or Liability

Discovering a new debt or liability is another valid reason for reopening a California probate. You might especially want to consider reopening probate in such a case if doing so would profit the beneficiaries.

Breach of Fiduciary Duty

If you discover that the personal representative breached their fiduciary duty during the administration, you can petition to reopen the probate. For example, you can seek to reopen the probate if there is evidence of misrepresentation or fraud.

Discovery of a Previously Unknown Beneficiary

Suppose a new beneficiary is discovered after the estate has been closed. In that case, it may be necessary to reopen probate so the new beneficiary can be included in the distribution of the decedent’s estate.

Discovery of a New Will

If a new Will is discovered after the probate process has been finalized, interested parties can petition to reopen the probate so that the court can address the newly discovered document.

Contact The Probate Guy

Are you considering reopening probate? If so, you should speak to an attorney. Contact the dedicated California probate attorney, Robert L. Cohen – The Probate Guy – to schedule a telephonic consultation.

Southern California Probate Lawyer Serving Orange, Riverside, Anaheim, Whittier & Beyond.

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I love being a probate attorney. I love helping people through a very difficult time in their lives with the probate process. My practice focuses solely on probate matters. My job is to complete the probate process as efficiently and painlessly for my clients as possible. I have found that paying the upfront costs of probate adds unneeded stress, so I will advance all of the fees and costs for the probate. No money is required to complete the probate. I will be reimbursed at the end of the case when you receive your inheritance. Call me NOW to discuss your case for free.

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