Process

Notification of Death
The Public Administrator may be notified of a death by various sources, including:
  • The Coroner's Office
  • Mortuaries
  • Nursing homes
  • Residental care facilities
  • Hospitals
  • Private citizens (whenever a death occurs and they are unable to locate next-of-kin)

Search for Next-of-Kin and Assets
The Public Administrator conducts an immediate search for next-of-kin and assets.

If next-of-kin are located and are able to handle the estate, it may be turned over to them. If no next-of-kin are located, the Public Administrator will proceed, as appropriate.

Estate Values
Estates valued at under $20,000 are handled without the necessity of Court authority.

Estates valued between $20,000 and $100,000 (Summary Administration) require very little Court involvement.

Estates valued at over $100,000 require formal probate proceedings, with almost all actions overseen by the Superior Court Probate Department.

Interment of Indigents
Under some circumstances, the Public Administrator may also arrange for the interment of indigents.

Before the county incurs the costs of cremation, an investigation is conducted to determine that the decedent is truly indigent and there are no known next-of-kin.

Other Duties
When administering a summary or full estate, the Public Administrator will:
  • Inventory all assets
  • Pay estate creditors
  • Sell all estate personal property (furniture and furnishings, vehicles, etc.) and real property
  • Provide accounting's to the Court 
  • Ensure that the estate is distributed to the lawful heirs or beneficiaries