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What is the process for appealing a probate court decision?

Processing the estates of the deceased occupies much of the duties of probate courts in California. Disputes sometimes arise around the disbursement of assets and the administrative actions of fiduciaries. Should you consider a probate court’s ruling incorrect, the law grants you the right to appeal a decision.

An appeal is not a retrial

You should not think of a probate appeal as an opportunity for the legal system to redo everything that happened. Your appeal cannot introduce new evidence. Instead, an appeal points out misinterpretations of law or procedural errors and asks the court to reconsider a decision in light of these complaints. Steps for filing a probate appeal include:

  • Choosing the correct court to review the decision
  • Citing the reasons for the appeal
  • Filing an appellate brief
  • Filing a Notice of Appeal to notify all parties

Common court orders subject to appeal

California probate law designates many types of probate court orders that you could appeal should you have sufficient grounds to do so. You may appeal a decision that resulted in a court order or should have resulted in a court order for issues related to:

  • Property sale, purchase or other property action
  • Settlement of fiduciary account
  • Fiduciary actions
  • Debt payments
  • Payment of legal expenses
  • Payment of fiduciary
  • Removal of fiduciary
  • Transfer of property to fiduciary in another jurisdiction
  • Fiduciary resignation
  • Fiduciary surety bond
  • Adjudication of certain claims

Focus on law and procedure

Every probate case involves unique factors that influence estate administration. Because an appeal depends on arguing about the interpretation of laws or procedures, you need to find a problem that could warrant another look by a court.