Electronic Filing in California Probate Court

Almost all of the California probate courts now require electronic filing (efiling) of documents.  For about the last year, the Los Angeles Superior Court requires efiling in probate.  There are over five dozen providers assisting with efiling.  Those providers charge a filing fee over-and-above the filing fee charged by the court.

Exceptions to mandatory efiling in probate cases are:

  1. Original testamentary instruments (wills & codicils), letters, original trust documents, and bond or undertaking documents
  2. Lodged documents
  3. Trial and hearing exhibits
  4. Peremptory challenges or challenges for cause of a judicial officer (CCP §170.6 or 170.1)
  5. Documents filed in civil cases that are related for handling in the probate division

The Los Angeles Superior Court implemented efiling for probate cases effective June 5, 2017.  As of that date, documents filed in the Probate Division must be filed electronically through an electronic filing service provider.

Last May, 2016, the Court replaced its decades-old probate case management system with state of the art technology. This new system has provided efficiencies for staff and improved the Court’s ability to maintain complete and easily accessible records. The ability to provide an efiling process is an additional benefit of the new system.

Due to severe budget reductions imposed during the recession, the Los Angeles Superior Court was forced to consolidate and relocate most of the probate operations to the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles, eliminating probate courtrooms in all of the districts with the exception of the Michael D. Antonovich Antelope Valley Courthouse in Lancaster.  The new efiling capability will eliminate the need to travel to one of those courthouses in order to file certain probate documents.

Further, pursuant to California Rules of Court, rule 2.253(b)(2) and Code of Civil Procedure section 1010.6, self-represented litigants are exempt from mandatory electronic filing. Documents may be presented for filing at the clerk’s office or may be submitted electronically.

All electronically filed documents received after midnight are deemed filed as of the next business day.

Efiling instructions from each electronic filing service provider is available on the Court’s website at lacourt.org.

Over the last 12 months, the Court replaced case management systems for other case types which allowed for the expansion of electronic filing court wide.  It will continue to do this until the project is completed.

Once you get used to how the particular provider you use expects you to efile a document, the process is much easier than it used to be when a messenger service was used to file documents and pay the filing fee.  Sometimes, however, there is confusion about things like selecting the proper label in the drop-down bar to describe the type of document being filed as well as when to combine certain documents with other similar documents being filed or if each document ought to be separately efiled.  One thing is certain, if a mistake is made about any part of the efiling, the documents will be rejected in whole or in part by the court with a brief explanation of why the rejection occurred.   Of course, each time an efiling is rejected, the provider nevertheless charges its fee and continues to charge a fee no matter how many times you try to efile a document before the court eventually accepts it.