Citizens Encouraged to Help Draft Changes to the California Probate Code Via Crowdsourcing

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State assemblyman, Mike Gatto launches the first “wiki bill” focusing on changing how probate cases are handled in California

Mark W. Bidwell, Attorney at Law

Called the “future of legislation” by creator and California state assemblyman, Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), a wiki website, similar to the popular Wikipedia, has been created to allow the public to anonymously view, draft, and edit a bill which focuses on making improvements to the laws regarding probate in California.

To view, edit, and suggest changes to the current code, the public can visit

The notion of using a wiki-site to gather feedback, also known as “crowdsourcing,” around public policy and legislation is not entirely new. Representative Darrell Issa (R-California) introduced something similar in 2012. The White House under the Obama administration also maintains where citizens can create petitions but not draft legislative text.

Instead of putting the task of drafting bills solely into the hands of either politicians and lobbyists or wealthy citizens with the $15 million it takes to qualify an initiative and advertise it on a voter ballot, Gatto wants to strike a balance to create a truly collaborative and transparent process.

Gatto selected the California probate code as a starting point because he believes “large numbers of specialists exist with an interest in participating (lawyers, CPAs, etc.).” Also, a high percentage of the population has experience dealing with settling the estate of a loved one and might have ideas on how the probate process can be improved.

An authority on the California probate code, attorney Mark W. Bidwell agrees that there is room for improvement. “The way the laws are written right now, the average person is unable to get through the probate process without hiring an attorney. There are just too many questions that come up. And even a small mistake can cause major setbacks that cost the individual both time and money.”

Gatto hopes that the “collective wisdom of the public” will help brainstorm new ideas and eliminate concepts that simply aren’t serving the public well or are completely unworkable.

Once drafted and introduced into the state legislature by the February 21st deadline, this bill will then follow the same procedures as any other, more traditionally drafted bill. In order for it to become a law, the bill will need to be passed by both houses of the California legislature as well as governor Jerry Brown.

“Until changes are made in the state of California,” Bidwell says, “most citizens will need to continue to retain a lawyer in order to settle the estate of someone who did not have their assets and property put into a trust.”

For more information regarding probate in California, visit:
Author’s profile, Mark W. Bidwell is licensed to practice law in California. Office is located at 18831 Von Karman Avenue, Suite 270, Irvine, California 92612. Phone number is 949-474-0961. Mr. Bidwell markets through websites such as

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