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Probate Division

Probate Division

 Most people think of probate courts as working exclusively with wills and the financial affairs of people who have died. However, this division handles a range of issues involving adults and children such as guardianships of children, conservatorships of adults, mental health treatment, trusts, elder abuse and dependent adult restraining orders.

Probate Examiner

The Probate Examiner reviews all probate matters currently set for hearing, including decedent's estates, trusts, guardianships and conservatorships as well as all ex parte applications in probate matters. The Probate Examiner makes recommendations to the judicial officer and posts probate notes on the Court's website which can be accessed by any member of the general public. As corrections are filed, the calendar is updated and the appropriate recommendations are made for the Court's consideration. Correspondence for the Probate Examiner may be sent through the clerk's office on the 4th floor or

Decedent's Estates


There are several types of probate proceedings that may be carried out by the Court on small and large estates. Please consult an attorney, paralegal or do some research at your local law library before filing.

Wills Lodged/Delivered to Court:

Upon the death of a person, the decedent's will must be delivered to the Court for safekeeping. As prescribed by Probate Code §8200, this must be done within 30 days of the decedent's date of death or 30 days after learning of the death. Effective July 1, 2012, a $50 fee applies when a will is lodged/delivered to the Court. When a will is lodged/delivered a cover sheet must be provided. For your convenience, the Clerk's Office has a cover page available for purchase or it can be downloaded on the forms page of this website. Wills must be delivered to the Probate Unit located in the Civil Clerk's office at 801 - 10th Street, Fourth Floor, Modesto, CA.

Probate Hearings:

Probate matters will be heard Tuesday - Friday of each week at 8:30 a.m. Probate matters will be calendared for hearing by the Probate Unit located in the Civil Clerk's Office at 801 - 10th Street, Fourth Floor, Modesto, CA. All petitions and applications which require a hearing will be assigned a calendar date upon filing of the petition.

Probate Referee

The probate referee for Stanislaus County is:

Steve G. Pallios
1601 "I" Street, Suite 510

Modesto, CA 95354
Telephone: (209) 571-3251

The State Controller’s website contains a Probate Referee’s Guide. This guide contains instructions on how to properly complete an Inventory and Appraisal and shows examples of how to list assets. The guide may be downloaded by clicking here.

Court Investigators

Court investigators are employed by the Court to privately interview adults and children involved in conservatorship and guardianship cases. Court investigators explain the court process, the legal rights of the protected adults and children and the responsibilities of those who may be appointed to provide for and protect them. A report summarizing the interviews is written for the judge hearing the case. If a conservatorship is granted, the Court investigator regularly meets with the conservatee to determine whether the conservatee's needs are being met by the conservator appointed to manage their personal and/or financial affairs. If guardianship is granted for a child, the Court investigator may review the case to determine whether the guardian appointed to care for and protect them is fulfilling their obligations.

Please, do not bring children when coming to discuss these matters.


In California, a guardianship is a court proceeding where a judge appoints someone to provide physical care for a person under age 18 or to manage the minor's estate (property) or both. In some states, conservatorship of an adult is called guardianship, but not in California. A guardian need not be a relative of the child.

Temporary Guardianship

A temporary guardianship enables a person to have legal guardianship of a child prior to the granting of a general guardianship. It cannot be filed separately from a guardianship.


  • A copy of your paperwork is retained by the Clerk's Office for forwarding to the Court investigator's office.
  • The Community Services Agency investigates non-relative guardianships.


A conservatorship is a court proceeding to appoint a representative (conservator) to assist with the financial affairs or the personal care of a person who is either physically or mentally unable to handle either or both.

Temporary Conservatorship

A temporary conservatorship enables a person to have legal conservatorship of an adult prior to the granting of a general conservatorship. It cannot be filed separately from a conservatorship.

Conservatorship Hearings:

Hearings for conservatorships are scheduled approximately 45 to 60 days from the date the Petition for Appointment of Conservator is filed.

Conservator's Handbook

All filing parties who have filed a Petition for Appointment of Conservator (including petitions for temporary conservatorship) must purchase the Conservator's Handbook before the Court will consider the petition for appointment. The handbook may be purchased from the Probate division of the Civil Clerk's Office located on the fourth floor of 801 10th Street, Modesto, CA. The handbook may also be downloaded online.


An adoption is the legal process whereby the natural parents' rights and duties towards the child are terminated by the Court and given to the adoptive parents.


  • It will be necessary to contact the Department of Social Services, Adoption Division for the investigation on stepparent adoption.
  • You may only adopt one adult per year unless the adoptees are siblings.
  • Termination of Parental Rights/Free From Custody is the legal process whereby the rights and duties of the natural parents are terminated by the Court.

Adoption Hearings:

Adoption hearings are set 15 to 20 days after filing the necessary papers and only after a report has been filed by the Department of Social Services.

Note: We must have all necessary documents filed in the case before the Clerk's Office will schedule a hearing. Adoption hearings are scheduled by the Family Court Services division of the Family Law Clerk's Office located on the first floor of the courthouse at 1100 I Street, Modesto, CA.

The information posted on this website is not intended to constitute legal advice or to take the place of the assistance of competent legal counsel. You should speak to an attorney of your choice for specific information about the facts of your case and your rights.

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