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Questions Answered by John B. Palley
2 Answers | Asked in Banking and Probate for California on
Q: I am sole heir and administrator. I am in chexsystems and cannot open bank account. What will happen when house sells?

I am the petitioner in pro per. I do not have an attorney representing me. Could I amend my order and add a co-administrator?

John B. Palley
John B. Palley answered on Aug 5, 2020

You could have the title company pay the money to your lawyer's attorney-client trust account. They could then make the distributions at the end of probate.

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1 Answer | Asked in Probate for California on
Q: Do I need to file as personal representative of the Estate before filing petition of small estate166,222 or less?

Would like to file for determination of succession of real and personal property under 166,222 in California. Home has mortgage of 150000 and no other assets. Small amount in checking but that's all.

John B. Palley
John B. Palley answered on Aug 3, 2020

You do not need to file to be PR before filing a small estate petition. However, you do need to get the house valued by a California Probate Referee for that county. Also, the mortgage does not play into the valuation. The $166,250 value is just based on the gross value of the property. So you can... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Probate for California on
Q: I need a probate lawyer ASAP. I live in Modesto,ca I dont have much money, but am willing to pay what I can.
John B. Palley
John B. Palley answered on Aug 1, 2020

Can you summarize the situation? A lot of times there is no money needed to start probate. Really depends on the facts. Feel free to post here or email me directly your summary.

4 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning, Insurance Bad Faith and Probate for California on
Q: Is a son or daughter of a beneficiary of a life insurance policy entitled to the proceeds if the the benefiary dies?

And son or daughter is not listed as a beneficiary on the policy?

John B. Palley
John B. Palley answered on Jul 26, 2020

No. If the beneficiary dies BEFORE the person whose life the policy was on then the beneficiary's estate/heirs do not take. However, if the beneficiary dies AFTER the person but before they claim the life insurance proceeds then yes their estate/heirs would take.

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1 Answer | Asked in Probate for California on
Q: Started probate for parents property before my brother passed away.

I'm Living in the family home my parents had no will it is paid off. Before my brother passed we started a probate never completed I am the only child living The house is still in my parents name because it's been difficult having no will. Does the house go to me and my parents... Read more »

John B. Palley
John B. Palley answered on Jun 27, 2020

Yes he could make you move out. Should probably try to work out a deal to buy him out. If you have a probate attorney helping with mom/dad's probate they should be able to help with brother's probate and a buy-out. If not, I encourage you to find a qualified and experienced probate... Read more »

3 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for California on
Q: Hello my brother just past away. It was just me and him as children of our parents

Hello my brother just passed away we were the only 2 children. My parents passed away with no will before my brother passed away we had an attorney start a probate to divide my parents been property between us 2 but my brother passed before it was completed still in process. Now do I divide it with... Read more »

John B. Palley
John B. Palley answered on Jun 27, 2020

Brother's son gets brother's share. I am sorry for all your loss.

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2 Answers | Asked in Probate for California on
Q: How long does a family member have time to file for probate in the state of Ca
John B. Palley
John B. Palley answered on Jun 18, 2020

You are supposed to file a will within 30 days of death but you are allowed to file later. If there might be a competing petition by someone else I like to file first. If there is no fighting then delaying is usually ok. I have filed cases 20 years after death.

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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning, Collections and Probate for California on
Q: Is the surviving spouse liable for the deceased spouse's credit card debt if only in the deceased's name?

If credit card debt was taken out by the deceased spouse in their name only and without the surviving spouse's knowledge, what rights does the surviving spouse have? Are they still liable for the debt? There is no will or estate.

John B. Palley
John B. Palley answered on Apr 29, 2020

That's tough to answer as there are many variables and ways it could go. A general rule in probate is that a person (spouse or otherwise) is liable for debts (even if they didn't know about it) to the extent they received assets from the decedent. So if the spouse received money/assets... Read more »

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3 Answers | Asked in Probate for California on
Q: my mom notarized a letter, to sell her home (with mortgage) and split proceeds equally with siblings. Is Probate needed
John B. Palley
John B. Palley answered on Apr 17, 2020

It sounds like the transaction was not completed. Did the buyers sign anything where they agreed to pay the mortgage? So that would be one of my several concerns. Also Without going through a title company I doubt the buyers would have good title so that might not be able to sell in future. I thus... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Probate for California on
Q: California probate

Sister died and now my 2 brothers and I are involved in her probate. One brother wants to continue to live in her house and sell it down the road instead of selling it now and splitting the proceeds. I want to sell it now. Will the probate judge decide which? Can probate close and settle if we... Read more »

John B. Palley
John B. Palley answered on Apr 16, 2020

Normally cash is needed to close (end) probate. That is cash for attorney fees, executor fees, court costs. So probate can't close without selling the house unless someone puts in cash. I would come up with a distribution agreement and have everybody sign off. Good luck.

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4 Answers | Asked in Probate for California on
Q: Can I just do a notorized letter instead of a will in leaving my house to my child and the deed is in my name?
John B. Palley
John B. Palley answered on Mar 30, 2020

I agree with that others your proposed document would most likely not work. A holographic will or transfer on death feed is better. However, it should be pointed out there can be pitfalls with those. Talking to an experienced estate planning attorney is best. Good luck.

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2 Answers | Asked in Probate for California on
Q: My grandmother passed away over a year ago and my mother didn't put the estate through probate and she recently passed

My grandma's will says if her children are deceased the home goes to her grandchildren but my mom's husband is tying to take the house. My mom never put the house in her name... will me and my siblings inherit the home or does he have rights?

John B. Palley
John B. Palley answered on Mar 28, 2020

Assuming there is no trust then a probate of some variety is required (depends if value more or less than $166,250 in value) for grandmas estate. That would put the house into moms name. Then moms probate would be required and it depends on if she had a will. If mom had no will I would say the... Read more »

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4 Answers | Asked in Probate for California on
Q: My mother-in-law recently passed away aren’t gifts she received during life her personal property?

Now the kids are asking for what they gave her back my husband is successor trustee I told him the items belong to her and that if nothing is identified to go back to any specific person, that they will have to follow what the trust says in order to disburse it

John B. Palley
John B. Palley answered on Feb 26, 2020

Anything given to her belonged to her and not the givers of the gifts. Their rights ended when they gave the item to her. It’s a common misconception we see. Hopefully the will or trust provide instructions for distribution. Your husband should hire an attorney to advise him. Good luck. -John Palley

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2 Answers | Asked in Probate for California on
Q: THE ONLINE RECORD SAYS "PETITION GRANTED" . DOES THAT MEAN THAT JUDGE HAS SIGNED THE PETITION?
John B. Palley
John B. Palley answered on Feb 25, 2020

That means the Judge orally said it was approved. The Court order needs to be submitted and signed still. Usually whoever filed the petition will then file the order to be signed by the Judge. In almost all instances the written order is important so needs to get done. Good luck.

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3 Answers | Asked in Probate for California on
Q: Have a question about probate

My parents died without a will they had a house in their name children was just me and my brother he just passed. We started probate but didn't get to complete it and put house in mine and my brothers name yet. He is survived by a wife he hasn't been with for 15 years and 2 children? He... Read more »

John B. Palley
John B. Palley answered on Feb 20, 2020

His share would likely go 1/3 to his wife and 2/3 to his kids. If his assets are under $166,250 then a probate for him might be avoided. If over then his probate is needed too.

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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for California on
Q: I want to add a beneficiary on the title of my manufactured home in California. The home is in a rented space.

I found form HCD 488.4 but not sure how to submit it. Do I just fill it out and mail it to the Dept of Housing Registration and Titling Program?

John B. Palley
John B. Palley answered on Feb 19, 2020

I am sorry I missed your question before. Yes, you would fill out the form which creates the transfer on death beneficiary. Since your mobile is on a rented spot that really should be all you need though I would probably give a copy to the mobile home community manager to put in your file also.... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Probate for California on
Q: What is the statue of limitations to petition Probate?
John B. Palley
John B. Palley answered on Feb 19, 2020

There isn't really a statute of limitations for filing for probate in California. I have filed cases, for clients 20 years after the death occurred. However, if you have a will you are supposed to lodge it within 30 days and, in theory, there could be penalties for failing to do that although... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Probate for California on
Q: My stepmother was the sole beneficiary of my father’s estate and was appointed personal representative so she gets it

And I get nothing? As it went to probate and I received a letter because I’m an heir?

John B. Palley
John B. Palley answered on Feb 18, 2020

Step-mother may or may not be entitled to everything. Each case is different. Depends on if there is a will or not. If no will then it depends on if community property or separate property. A child is entitled to notice either way so it is possible you are entitled to no assets. Impossible to know... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Probate for California on
Q: Can a personal representative appointed to an estate do what they want with the estate being left to him or her?
John B. Palley
John B. Palley answered on Feb 18, 2020

Generally not. There are specific rules which govern how a personal representative should act. Most things require court approval either before doing them or confirmation after the fact. To those requiring confirmation after the fact there is a specific way things are to be done. For example, if... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Probate for California on
Q: My brother died w/o a will, no wife, no kids, 4 siblings. Can I close his bank account & divide $ betw us 4?

My brother owned no property, just a car, personal stuff and a bank account of less than $50k Of the 4 siblings, 3 of us agree that I close the account & divide among the 4 The 4th wants control & we 3 don’t trust him, as he has already appropriated all the deceased’s things. Do I... Read more »

John B. Palley
John B. Palley answered on Feb 14, 2020

Technically all heirs at law need to sign a small estate affidavit. However, I have seen some situations where the heirs sign an agreement for one to handle. That way the one that is handling is not lying when signing under the penalty of perjury. Good luck.

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