Whether a family member has recently died or you are just curious about someone’s estate, there are several ways you can find more information about probate cases. While different states have different probate codes and requirements, you can usually find estate information fairly easily if you know where to look. Here are a few places you can start.
Talk to the administrator.
Let’s say you have been notified that a relative has died and you stand to inherit from the estate. This notice typically comes from the office of the estate administrator, also known as a personal representative, administrator or executor. If you know who this is it’s easiest to simply call the representative and ask for an update on the status of the estate. Either the representative or his or her attorney will usually be willing to provide you this information.
Find the court record.
If you want to review official documents that have been filed in the case you can travel to the local county courthouse and ask to review the case file. Depending on the courthouse you may have to speak to the civil clerk or the probate court clerk, or possibly the records department. If you don’t know where to start looking just ask the clerk where you can find this information. Some courts in California, including Sacramento County, make these documents available online on the court’s web site.
Read the newspaper.
Whenever an administrator opens a probate case, he or she will have to file an official notice in a local newspaper. This is often included as a death notice, notice to creditors, or by other terminology. Searching past copies of the newspaper for this information is usually best done online or at your local library.
California law requires that specific notices be provided in the cases of probate proceedings and trust administrations to persons who are either named beneficiaries or legal heirs of the decedent.