Estate Executor’s Timeline of Duties During the Probate Process in California

The timeline for the Probate Process in California is longer than many states. The below timeline provides an overview to show why the process takes so long. The activities that add the most time to the Probate Process are publishing the Notice to Creditors and allowing the creditors time to notify the Executor of any claims, filing the State and Federal Tax Returns and waiting for Probate court appearances.


The Notice to Creditors is the filing of a public notice so that creditors can advise of any claims against the estate. You will hear from many creditors as soon as the notice is published as they want to protect their rights to their claim but it is possible for a creditor to be slower.

Filing the Tax Returns requires more effort than filing your own because you are probably more familiar with your own financial activities and can be more confident the information is complete. If the Deceased had a regular tax preparer with some or all of their records that will definitely save you time.

Keep track of the deadlines carefully as you don’t want to end up responsible for a creditor claim or extend their time to make a claim and slow the settlement time.

Clearing the House

Clearing and preparing the house for sale take longer than expected so be sure to start as soon as your attorney gives you the green light. Sorting through years worth of accumulated belongings is time consuming and both physically and mentally challenging. I can direct you to trained professionals who can make these task much easier.

Probate Timeline

Prepare & File Petition for Probate1-2 months
Court hearing on Petition for Probate 2-3 months
Letters of Administration issued2-4 months
Notice to Creditors 
Notice to DHS Inventory & Appraisement4-8 months
Pay State & Federal Taxes6-12 months
Allow or Reject Creditor Claims 
Possible Preliminary Distributions 
Notice to DHS (if deceased received medical) 
Notice to FTB (if heir is out of state) 
Claim of Exemption (if assets transfer to a minor)6-15 months
Receive Final Tax Letter from State & Federal6-18 months
File Petition for Final Distribution & Accounting8-16 months
Hearing on Petition Final Dist & Accounting 
Order Approving Final Distribution & Accounting 
Distribution of Assets to Heirs9-17 months
Final Discharge Order (close of probate case)9-18 months
Final Distribution of Funds   9-18 months
Probate Timeline

This timeline is not legal advice and does not reflect slowdowns due to Court closures during Covid. Please consult your attorney for information specific to your case. More information available at

More Resources

For more a more detailed view of the Executor’s duties see the article and download the ebook Managing Probate with Purpose for a guide to the process beyond what your attorney will help you with.

Going through probate here in the San Fernando Valley, CA, can be tough, and you shouldn’t have to do it alone. There are resources available to help you make purposeful decisions and keep you and your family from being taken advantage of in your unique situation. Click here to schedule a worry-free conversation and get all of your questions answered.