Cite as B320664
Filed October 10, 2023
Second District, Div. Six
By Michelle Barnett Batista
Aaron, Riechert, Carpol & Riffle, APC
Headnote: Petition for Probate – Time Limits – Due Process
Summary: Time limits in Probate Code section 8226(c) for filing a petition to probate a will only bar the will proponent if that proponent received pre-hearing notice of a prior, competing petition for probate.
George filed a petition for probate alleging that his brother James died intestate. George later found a will and lodged it with the court. The court granted the intestate petition so George could “get things organized.” Thereafter, George served the will’s beneficiaries, including Olan, with a document entitled “Notice to Potential Beneficiary of Petition for Letters of Administration Under Probate Code 8226” and included copies of the will, the probate petition, the probate order, and letters of administration. More than 60 days after receiving the Notice to Potential Beneficiary and more than 120 days after the Court appointed George as special administrator, Olan petitioned to probate the will. James’s son, Mitchell, objected to the petition as untimely. The probate court admitted the will on the ground that the time limits in Section 8226(c) were inapplicable because Olan did not receive pre-hearing notice of George’s intestate petition. Mitchell appealed.
The appellate court affirmed. An exception to the general rule permitting a petition to probate a will at any time is to be strictly construed. George’s Notice to Potential Beneficiary gave Olan none of the due process afforded to those who received formal pre-hearing notice of the intestate petition. Limiting application of Section 8226(c) to those who receive pre-hearing notice of a probate petition will not hinder the prompt administration of estates. The will proponent who takes no action despite knowledge of a pending probate case risks losing their claim to distributed estate assets.