Can you appeal a probate court decision in California?

Yes, you can appeal a California probate court decision.

What kind of California probate court decisions can be appealed?

General Probate Orders

California Probate Codes section 1300 governs appealable orders in probate generally and permits appeals from the making of, or refusal to make, any of the following orders:

(a) Directing, authorizing, approving, or confirming the sale, lease, encumbrance, grant of an option, purchase, conveyance, or exchange of property.

(b) Settling an account of a fiduciary.

(c) Authorizing, instructing, or directing a fiduciary, or approving or confirming the acts of a fiduciary.

(d) Directing or allowing payment of a debt, claim, or cost.

(e) Fixing, authorizing, allowing, or directing payment of compensation or expenses of an attorney.

(f) Fixing, directing, authorizing, or allowing payment of the compensation or expenses of a fiduciary.

(g) Surcharging, removing, or discharging a fiduciary.

(h) Transferring the property of the estate to a fiduciary in another jurisdiction.

(i) Allowing or denying a petition of the fiduciary to resign.

(j) Discharging a surety on the bond of a fiduciary.

(k) Adjudicating the merits of a claim made under Part 19 (commencing with Section 850) of Division 2.

Orders Relating To A Decedent’s Estate

You also need to look at California Probate Code section 1303, which governs appealable orders relating to decedent’s estate.  Section 1303 permits appeals with respect to a decedent’s estate, of the grant or refusal to grant the following orders:

(a) Granting or revoking letters to a personal representative, except letters of special administration or letters of special administration with general powers.

(b) Admitting a will to probate or revoking the probate of a will.

(c) Setting aside a small estate under Section 6609.

(d) Setting apart a probate homestead or property claimed to be exempt from enforcement of a money judgment.

(e) Granting, modifying, or terminating a family allowance.

(f) Determining heirship, succession, entitlement, or the persons to whom distribution should be made.

(g) Directing distribution of property.

(h) Determining that property passes to, or confirming that property belongs to, the surviving spouse under Section 13656.

(i) Authorizing a personal representative to invest or reinvest surplus money under Section 9732.

(j) Determining whether an action constitutes a contest under former Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 21320) of Part 3 of Division 11, as that chapter read prior to its repeal by Chapter 174 of the Statutes of 2008.

(k) Determining the priority of debts under Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 11440) of Part 9 of Division 7.

(l) Any final order under Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 20100) or Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 20200) of Division 10.

These lists are helpful to determine when an order in a California probate can be appealed. Unlike other types of proceedings, probate cases have many orders which may be considered “final” entered during the course of the proceeding, instead of one final judgment at the end of the case.  Therefore, appeals can be taken in the middle of the probate case if an appealable order has been entered.

How Long Do I Have To Appeal?

60 to 180 days.  California Rule of Court 8.104(a)(1) governs the time to appeal and states:

(a) Normal time

(1)  Unless a statute or rules 8.108, 8.702, or 8.712 provides otherwise, a notice of appeal must be filed on or before the earliest of:

(A)  60 days after the superior court clerk serves on the party filing the notice of appeal a document entitled “Notice of Entry” of judgment or a filed-endorsed copy of the judgment, showing the date either was served;

(B)  60 days after the party filing the notice of appeal serves or is served by a party with a document entitled “Notice of Entry” of judgment or a filed-endorsed copy of the judgment, accompanied by proof of service; or

(C)  180 days after entry of judgment.

(2)  Service under (1)(A) and (B) may be by any method permitted by the Code of Civil Procedure, including electronic service when permitted under Code of Civil Procedure section 1010.6 and rules 2.250-2.261.

(3)  If the parties stipulated in the trial court under Code of Civil Procedure section 1019.5 to waive notice of the court order being appealed, the time to appeal under (1)(C) applies unless the court or a party serves notice of entry of judgment or a filed-endorsed copy of the judgment to start the time period under (1)(A) or (B).

Sometimes you may want to file a writ, as opposed to a direct appeal.  The deadlines vary, and are very technical.  If you are considering taking an appeal from a California probate court decision, the best thing you can do is consult a California lawyer.

Andrew Gold, Esq.