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Public Administrator

Kevin LacyKevin Lacy, Captain

 

Address
175 South Lena Road
San Bernardino, California 92415

Phone:
(909) 387-2481
(909) 387-2978

Fax:(909) 387-2335

Office Hours:
Monday - Friday
8:00 am - 5:00 pm

Property Sales

Coroner's Building

The primary function of the Public Administrator is to administer decedents' estates, including: collecting and safeguarding assets, paying debts and if assets remain after paying debts and expenses, to distribute to those legally entitled. The Public Administrator is charged by the probate code to promptly:

  1. Petition for appointment as personal representative of the estate if no person having higher priority has petitioned for appointment.
  2. Petition for appointment as personal representative of any estate the public administrator determines is proper.
  3. Accept appointment as personal representative of an estate when so ordered by the court or as provided in Probate Code section 7621.
  4. Proceed with summary disposition of an estate as authorized by Article 4 (commencing with Section 7660), and in Section 13100 if the total value of the estate does not exceed $150,000.

Further, if no personal representative has been appointed, the Public Administrator shall take prompt possession or control of property of a decedent if it is deemed by the Public Administrator to be subject to loss, injury, waste, or misappropriation, or that the court orders.

The Public Administrator will make a prompt search for other property, a will and instructions for disposition of the decedent's remains. If a Will or instructions for disposition is found, the Public Administrator shall deliver the will to the court as provided in Section 8200 and Section 7100 of the Health and Safety Code respectively. If there is a custodian of the will, the Public Administrator shall direct the custodian to file as appropriate. If another property is located, the Public Administrator shall take possession or control of that property so that it will not be damaged or lost.

When to make a referral to the Public Administrator

If you are aware of an estate of a decedent that is in danger of loss or waste because no one is or appears to be acting to administer the estate, a referral to the Public Administrator is appropriate. While cases are referred to the Public Administrator primarily by the coroner we also receive referrals from public service agencies, friends, neighbors, creditors, hospitals, nursing homes, funeral directors and others. Anyone who knows of a decedent of San Bernardino County whose estate is at risk of loss, injury, waste or misappropriation can and should make a referral to the Public Administrator.

The form for making such a referral is provided here. It is in portable document format (.pdf). The form can filled out and printed or printed out and completed by hand and then mailed or delivered to the Public Administrator at 175 South Lena Road, San Bernardino CA, 92415-0335. If you have any questions about making a referral or how to complete the form, please write care of the above address or call us at (909) 387-2481 or (909) 387-2978.

For your information, the Public Administrator may be appointed under the following circumstances:

When no executor or administrator has been appointed and, in consequence thereof, the property, or any part thereof, is being wasted, uncared for or lost.

When ordered to be appointed by the court.

When an heir nominates the Public Administrator, or the will names the Public Administrator as executor.

When there are no known heirs of the estate.

For an heir who resides outside of the State of California and requests the Public Administrator.

When the named executor fails to act on a formal probate and no other person has a preferred right.

At the time of the original investigation, the Deputy Public Administrator looks for all leads which may indicate assets of the decedent. These leads are followed up in due course during the administration of the estate. Unless someone has deliberately hidden assets, all assets are usually located before the close of the administration.

The Public Administrator will make a prompt search for other property, a will and instructions for disposition of the decedent's remains. If a will or instructions for disposition is found, the Public Administrator shall deliver the will to the court as provided in section 8200 and section 7100 of the Health and Safety Code respectively. If there is a custodian of the Will, the Public Administrator shall direct the custodian to file as appropriate. If another property is located, the Public Administrator shall take possession or control of that property so that it will not be damaged or lost.

FAQs

Answer: No, in fact the Public Administrator is near the bottom of the list of appointees under California law. According to State law, the following is the priority of appointment:

  1. Surviving spouse or domestic partner as defined in Section 37
  2. Children
  3. Grandchildren
  4. Other issue
  5. Parents
  6. Brothers and sisters
  7. Issue of brothers and sisters
  8. Grandparents
  9. Issue of grandparents
  10. Children of a predeceased spouse or domestic partner
  11. Other issue of a predeceased spouse or domestic partner
  12. Other next of kin
  13. Parents of a predeceased spouse or domestic partner
  14. Issue of parents of a predeceased spouse or domestic partner
  15. Conservator or guardian of the estate acting in that capacity at the time of death who has filed a first account and is not acting as conservator or guardian for any other person
  16. Public administrator
  17. Creditors
  18. Any other person

The Public Administrator makes every attempt to find all potential heirs and give them the opportunity to administer the estate.

When the Public Administrator decides to initiate probate proceedings on an estate, a petition for appointment is filed with the Court. Notice is given to all interested parties, including relatives, heirs, creditors and those who have formally requested a special notice of the proceedings.

Answer: Cases are referred to the Public Administrator primarily by the Coroner. They may also be referred by public service agencies, friends, neighbors, creditors, hospitals, nursing homes and funeral directors. Anyone who knows of a decedent of San Bernardino County whose estate is at risk of loss, injury, waste or misappropriation can make a referral to the Public Administrator. View or start filling out the Referral Form.

Answer: The Public Administrator may be appointed under the following circumstances:

  1. When no executor or administrator has been appointed and, in consequence thereof, the property, or any part thereof, is being wasted, uncared for or lost,
  2. When ordered to be appointed by the Court,
  3. When an heir nominates the Public Administrator, or the Will names the Public Administrator as Executor,
  4. When there are no known heirs of the estate,
  5. For an heir who resides outside of the State of California and requests the Public Administrator,
  6. When the named Executor fails to act on a Formal Probate and no other person has a preferred right.

Answer: Yes. Additionally, per statute, every estate shall be charged an annual bond fee in the amount of twenty-five dollars ($25) plus one-fourth of one percent of the amount of an estate greater than ten thousand dollars ($10,000). The amount charged is an expense of the estate.

Answer: It is not necessary to hire an attorney insofar as the ordinary administration of the estate is concerned; this is handled by the attorney for the Public Administrator. If, however, your right to inherit is not clear, or substantial claims affecting the estate have been filed, you may wish to retain legal counsel to represent your special interests. The fees for such attorneys are a matter for private agreement between you and your attorney and they are not charged against the estate.

Answer: A formal probate proceeding is the method commonly known for administration of estates. It is used by the Public Administrator for estates with a date-of-death value exceeding $100,000. Formal probate proceedings require court approval.

Answer: California law allows a Public Administrator to act as administrator of estates without court approval where the total value of the estate does not exceed $100,000. This size estate is handled as a summary probate proceeding and may be utilized exclusively by the Public Administrator.

Answer: The California Probate Code provides for statutory fees for all executors, administrators and their attorneys. The fees are calculated based on the value of the estate as follows:

  • 4% of the first $100,000
  • 3% of the next $100,000
  • 2% of the next $800,000
  • 1% of all above $9,000,000

In addition to the above noted statutory fees, the Court may award extraordinary fees for extra work such as selling real or personal property, petitioning for determination of heirship, litigation to collect assets, and defending actions against the estate and other similar matters. All fees must be approved by the Probate Court, usually at the time of the final accounting.

Answer: At the time of the original investigation, the Deputy Public Administrator looks for all leads which may indicate assets of the decedent. These leads are followed up in due course during the administration of the estate. Unless someone has deliberately hidden assets, all assets are usually located before the close of the administration.

Answer: If an estate is not able to pay it's debts without selling property, the property is sold to pay those debts. If an estate is solvent and there is sufficient cash to pay claims and expenses, the Public Administrator does not ordinarily sell property without the permission of the known heirs. At settlement, if there are no heirs to take possession of assets, or the heirs don't wish to take possession, the assets are liquidated. More information.

Answer: Yes, the Public Administrator maintains all funds in interest bearing accounts.

Answer: Each estate is unique and final distribution varies. Generally, do not expect distribution earlier than fourteen months from the date the Administrator is appointed. For your own peace of mind, do not plan your financial affairs upon the expectation that you will be receiving a certain amount on a certain date.

Answer: You can assist in the timely administration of an estate by completing all forms sent to you fully and returning them promptly.

Answer: If you paid any debts of the decedent, incurred charges directly connected with the decedent's death or paid any funeral expenses, you may file a Creditor's Claim with the Public Administrator. Be advised, the Court will not ordinarily approve a claim for travel, lodging or other expenses related to a trip for the funeral. To obtain a Creditor's Claim form, you must request one in person at the San Bernardino County Clerk's Office, 303 W. Third Street, Lower Level, San Bernardino, CA 92415-0210. It is important that your claim be filed timely to be valid. Different rules apply to various types of cases and claims. Ask the Deputy Public Administrator assigned to your case what the requirements are for your claim.

Answer: Charges against an estate are paid when the estate is ready to be settled. Funeral expenses are an exception. They are a priority claim and will be paid as soon as the Public Administrator is certain sufficient funds are available.

Answer: Federal estate tax is a tax on the estate. It applies only when the gross estate exceeds the amount listed below for the year of death:

  • 1985 $400,000
  • 1986 $500,000
  • 1987 and thereafter $600,000

For deaths occurring after June 8, 1982, there is no longer any California Inheritance Tax.

Answer: On formal probates, a copy of the First and Final Accounting will be mailed to the heirs or legatees when it is submitted to the Court for approval. On summary proceedings, a copy of the accounting report will be provided upon request.

Answer: A complete accounting will be given upon final distribution. Statements from this office prior to the final accounting would be estimates and substantial change may take place in the financial picture (for example, the filing of a large unexpected claim).

Answer: Certified copies of the death certificate may be obtained from the San Bernardino County Recorder's Office for a small fee. They can be contacted at, 222 West Hospitality Lane, San Bernardino, CA 92415-0022, or http://www.sbcounty.gov/arc/, or at (909) 387-8314

Answer: The Deputy Public Administrator will work with the family to make the necessary arrangements, or at their request or absence, the deputy will assume the responsibility to make necessary arrangements.

Answer: Arrangements will be made according to any pre-need plans of the decedent or dependant on the ability of the estate to pay. All persons will be afforded a dignified burial.

If you have any other questions, please call (909) 387-2481 or (909) 387-2978.

San Bernardino County
Sheriff’s Department

655 East Third Street
San Bernardino, California 92415-0061

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