Probate Facilitator Program - Guardianship of the Person Only - Contra Costa Superior Court

Self-Help icon Project Name: e-Correspondence
Court: Sacramento Superior Court
   Documents: Program Samples
   Links: Court Guardianship Website

Overview/Program Description:

The probate facilitator program serves self-represented litigants (SRL) and is provided via workshops, e-mail, telephone, and in-court services during the Guardianship calendar.

Workshops: Workshops are in two areas: pre-filing and post-filing, including petitions from the beginning of the process to terminating a guardianship, visitation, out-of-state moves, objections to petitions, issuance of conference statements, and preparation for trial.

E-mail: The facilitator responds to e-mails within approximately 3 days, using a databank of about 180 pieces of discreet information by topic files, including procedure, substance, and tips. Most topics are addressed in 2 to 3 pages or less. The information is provided via attachments to the e-mail response. Where necessary, boiler plate information files have been developed for common questions requiring answers with multiple topic files.

Telephone: Court users leave questions on voicemail and the facilitator tries to answer calls within three days.

In-court services: The facilitator attends guardianship court sessions. This service is primarily a "bridge" between the judge and SRLs. The facilitator assists the litigants in court hearings, and helps them to understand tentative rulings and drafts orders, declarations, and other documents.

Program Benefits/Savings:

The following problems have significantly been addressed by this program:

  • Inefficiency and poor use of limited court resources: The high volume of guardianship cases with SRLs resulted in high numbers of hearings. Since this program has been implemented, staff time of approximately eight court staff has been greatly diminished.
  • Poorly communicated information: Due to SRLs' lack of knowledge and education about probate, paperwork filed with the court was poorly written, making it difficult for judges to truly understand petitions, resulting in additional hearings. Since this program has been implemented, the need for hearings has been reduced by almost 50 percent.