Serves the public by managing the estates of persons who die without a will or executor.
The Santa Clara County Public Administrator manages the estates of persons who die without a will or without an appropriate person to act as executor. The Public Administrator must be appointed by the Superior Court to act as executor, administrator, or trustee.
When no one is acting to handle the estate, the Public Administrator must search for a will and any heirs. If a will is found, the named executor is notified. If no will is found, then the Public Administrator will attempt to contact heirs to handle the estate. If there are no heirs, or the heirs are unable to act, the Public Administrator may handle the estate by following the California Probate Code.
Referrals to the Public Administrator are made by the coroner, mortuaries, court, skilled nursing facilities, and hospitals.
The Public Administrator will determine if the case is accepted within 30 days of the referral. During this period, the Public Administrator searches for next of kin, funds for burial, and any assets that may be at risk.
The Public Administrator must present the court with a detailed accounting of all client assets, debts, and any other relevant facts. Small estates that do not require court supervision require up to 18 months for administration. The administration time for full probate varies depending on the complexity of the estate.
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