The Court, and particularly Probate Court, Consolidation is now here.
Judge Paul transferred almost one month ago to downtown Los Angeles. He has temporarily continued hearing Long Beach cases on Thursday afternoons in Long Beach, but that will cease soon. He will be hearing matters from the various districts in Central Dept. 29. It was formerly Family Law Dept. 7, which was moved upstairs.
Judge Beckloff, Judge Goetz, and Judge Levanas will remain in Central, along with Judge Paul. Judge Steele from Van Nuys, Judge Green from the Valley, Judge Murphy from Norwalk, and Judge Callion are additional judicial officers who will join with the current judges and share courtrooms.
All branch courts will effectively be closed as to probate on June 10, 2013. Beginning April 8, 2013 there will be no more new probate filing in district branches. After April 8, but prior to June 10, if supplements need to be filed for branch court matters they must still be filed in the district where the matter is currently at. The formalized Court Rules will be more important now in Central.
There are sure to be some frustrations, but they will smooth out. There will be no additional staffing although there is an increase in population and fewer courts and less staffing to take care of them. Probate will have Departments 5, 9, 11, and 29 (former D-7 between D-5 and D-9). Former branch court matters will be heard in D-29 by Judge Paul. New filings will be heard by the other departments. Brand new filings from areas which would have previously been able to have been heard in a branch court will be filed downtown in Central and will be assigned to a judge there.
Some may ask, "How can I afford to go downtown?" Well, you won't have to if you get an "RFA" with matters approved in advance.
The Probate Attorney will be in Room 258, but it will be closed to the public (including us. There will be no face-to-face with a probate attorney). Room 426 will be open. The filing window has been moved to Room 429. Ex Partes will be in the Minor's Compromise area next to Room 258. Matters set for trial should be at the same time, but Downtown LA. There is no more Mediation/ADR office. However, parties can agree to go privately to mediation and the court can suggest it.
Petitions for Probate will be heard at 8:30 AM. You can use Court Call to appear by telephone to avoid making the trip to Downtown L.A., however, Judge Paul warns us to use it efficiently and judicially. Some judges will encourage its use and others prefer to see you there. Sometimes by appearing personally you make a good appearance. Also, the judge may wish to have counsel "meet and confer," which you cannot do if you are on the telephone, leading to a continuance. However, there are times Court Call could be appropriate.
Think seriously before you file a Motion for Summary Judgment, a Demurrer, or similar motion. Is it really necessary? They take a lot of time.
Guardianships and Conservatorships with incapacity issues that prevent travel to Downtown L.A. must be filed Downtown but will be set for hearing at a branch court. One Judge will be a "traveling Judge." There will be a form for this, but this comes with a stern warning: Do not abuse it. We are working on a Brown Bag Lunch with Judge Beckloff soon.
Make plans to attend the upcoming Brown Bag Meeting of the Long Beach Bar Association Estate Planning, Probate, and Trust Law Section. It is scheduled for Thursday, April 4, 2013 at the Long Beach Courthouse, Dept. 4 (Second Floor), from noon-1 PM. We will hear from Barry Harlan, Esq. and Kira Masteller, Esq. of Lewitt, Hackman, Shapiro, Marshall & Harlan about Crossover Issues in Family Law and Estate Planning. MCLE credit will be given.
Click Here for California Probate Court Consolidation Update # 4-Clarification on Filing Requirements (As of April 4, 2013)
John T. Anderson, Section Chair
LB Bar Assoc. Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law Section
Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law by the
State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization