IN THIS ISSUE
The Trusts and Estates eBulletin
is published monthly by the Trusts and Estates Law Section, coeditors:
Jana G. Garrotto
Stefanie S. Cutler
Jessica G. Gordon
Trusts and Estates Executive Committee Officers:
Jana G. Garrotto, Chair
Deborah Keesey, Vice-Chair
Susan Barlevav Devermont, Secretary & Treasurer
Stefanie S. Cutler, Immediate Past Chair
SPECIAL EBULLETIN: LASC PROBATE COURT ANSWERS
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
SERIES NUMBER 5 (MARCH 30, 2021)
Frequently Asked Questions for the
Probate Division of the Court - Series No. 5
Please note: The Court is only able to respond to questions regarding process or procedure. We are unable to answer questions which would include any legal advice, therefore some questions were removed from the questions submitted.
Q1: When can we expect to get back to the larger calendars?
A: “While the number of COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County have decreased and the number of persons being vaccinated against the coronavirus is increasing, the Superior Court of Los Angeles County (LASC or Court) must remain vigilant about operating safely. Among other things, it will continue to limit the number of persons in its courthouses and continue to enforce its mask and social distancing protocols.” Excerpt taken from ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER OF THE PRESIDING JUDGE RE COVID-19 PANDEMIC entered 2/25/2021 found at http://www.lacourt.org/newsmedia/uploads/142021225188412021-GEN-017-00AdministrativeOrderofPJreCOVID-19022521.pdf.
The Court must still employ practices that promote social distancing within the courthouse and manage the calendar sizes of the Probate Courtrooms accordingly. The Court’s calendars and calendar sizes will remain staggered with settings that allow for maximum capacity given social distancing requirements within each courtroom, public hallways, and designated waiting spaces.
Parties are encouraged to appear remotely via LACourtConnect when possible.
Q2: Who will be the new Judge in Dept 9?
A: The Court will issue a Notice regarding changes to Judicial officer assignments, including assignment in Dept. 9, as soon as the information is available.
Q3: What are the setting dates now for sales and appointment petitions?
A: Petitions for Confirmation of Sale and Hearing and Petitions for Probate as specified in the DE-111 Judicial Council Forms are being set 30 days from the date of filing as of October 2020.
Q4: What are the setting dates for guardianship and conservatorship appointment petitions?
A: Except for the Petitions specified in Question 3 above, Petition hearings related to guardianship and conservatorship are currently scheduled up to 140 days from the date of filing. Other Petitions, including 17200 Petitions, Petitions for Authority, and Accountings are also currently scheduled up to 140 days from the date of filing. As stated in FAQ #1, calendars in each department are reviewed to ensure compliance with the Court’s Covid-19 administrative orders in setting calendar sizes and scheduling dates. Calendar settings in the future may be revised consistent with operative administrative orders.
NOTES AND ORDER PROCESSING
Q5: What is the status of Note preparation? For a while we were receiving them two weeks in advance and now it’s shortened.
A: The vast majority of hearings have the notes posted at least two weeks prior to the hearing date. A minority of notes are posting less than two weeks prior to the hearings due to a temporary staffing shortage.
Q6: What is the time for processing orders?
A: We typically process and enter Probate orders within a month of submission. The personnel issue mentioned above regarding the notes has also affected the review of orders.
Q7: At what point should we be concerned that it’s been lost? How do we follow up on the status of an order?
A: With the electronic order system introduced within the last few years, orders do not go “lost” as they did in the paper days. They may, however, sometimes enter an incorrect queue or otherwise suffer a technological glitch. If you suspect that is the case after a month from submission of an unrejected order (or sooner if it is an ex parte or temporary order), do not resubmit. Instead, contact Managing Probate Attorney Dean Silliman at DSilliman@lacourt.org. To ensure the availability of resources, we ask that you make inquiries only when the order is needed soon, such as with appointment orders, sale orders or other urgency orders.
Q8: Would the Court consider providing the parties an opportunity for the probate attorneys/examiners to interact remotely with counsel on ex parte appearances? (perhaps via LACourtConnect, Zoom, WebEx, telephone conference call, or even a ‘chat’ window or similar interactive text messaging on the Court website similar to the remote technical support operations most of us are used to)
A: The ex parte protocol is to submit on the pleadings for Judicial Officer rulings. We do not foresee a change to this procedure.
LACC AND MISCELLEANOUS QUESTIONS
Q9: Once the hearing is done the CAC loses access to the LA Attorney Portal. It would be helpful to at least have access until the Minute Order is available. Is this possible?
A: The court is not authorized to allow “remote” case access to a person who is not a party. The system has been configured to terminate remote access to a party once a termination is ordered. The current process for obtaining copies after the termination of appointment is to request copies of documents on-line (for a fee) and then include those costs in the claim requesting payment.
Q10: New PACE procedures (11-2020) that PACE did not give us notice of and whether our claims should be sent to PACE first or the Department first.
A: The General Order signed 9/15/2020 and effective 11/2/2020 00PJOrderDelegationofAuthorityPACE11022020.pdf instructs that claims shall be mailed to the PACE unit or placed in the secure drop box located at the entrance of the Hall of Records, 320 W. Temple Street, Room G-25, Los Angeles, CA 90012.
Q11: On the Attorney Portal we cannot access locked documents, such as the confidential supplements and court investigator reports. We used to get them with the appointment.
A: In general, confidential documents are not available for access absent a court order. This includes confidential documents such as fee waiver requests, ADA requests, and other confidential documents which may not be disclosed to all parties. The court is working to identify confidential documents within a probate case which may be disclosed to the parties and will create a separate document security group to allow parties to access these documents through the portals. This functionality is coming soon.
Q12: Is there a way to unlock all documents for CAC?
A: The Court is not authorized to disclose all confidential and/or sealed documents without a court order to all parties, including CAC.
Q13: Why are GALs not being given access to the AttorneyPortal for documents?
A: If the GAL is an attorney, the attorney portal may be used. This is new configuration. If we did not have your bar number at the time of appointment as GAL, we can now enter it to provide access through the attorney portal. Call the clerk’s office to provide the update. GAL’s who are not attorneys will not be able to use the attorney portal.
Q14: When will the court be instituting the “share screen” feature?
A: The share screen feature is available through LACC, but participants on LACC who are on audio only will not be able to see the document(s) displayed. Parties should prepare in advance of the hearing and exhibits are requested to be exchanged and provided to the court in advance of an evidentiary hearing.
Q15: Would it be possible for the Court to send an alert when new probate notes are posted on a case?
A: Currently alerts are available through portal subscription when documents are filed into the case management system where we have access to party information. This feature is not available for probate notes posted on the public website at this time.
Q16: Many of the older cases are not on the Attorney Portal. Who do we contact to get copies of orders that aren’t on the Portal?
A: If a case is not available through the Attorney Portal or the Case Search online to request copies of records, parties may make an appointment with the Court’s Records Unit to obtain copies of court records.
Q17: A while ago there was a suggestion that the parties appearing via LACourtConnect may be able to ‘chat’ with each other during appearances. Is there an intent to implement that feature soon? (and could or should that be restricted to registered users or attorneys only?)
A: This functionality was deployed for use as of Friday, 3/12/2021 and is an optional feature for courtroom use.
Q18: Can the Court provide real-time captioning for hearing impaired participants?
A: This service is not available at this time.
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