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Questions Answered by John B. Palley
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 had no... 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 I... 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 need all... 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.

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for California on
Q: How long can a bank hold my dead husband's saving account if there is no probate
John B. Palley
John B. Palley answered on Feb 13, 2020

It depends and, by the way, I am sorry for your loss. Typically, assuming his assets are under $166,250 you can get access after 40 days. If more than $166,250 then need to get a probate court order (either a spousal property petition or a full probate).

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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law and Probate for California on
Q: If a joint owner of a house passed away, what process is required to make the survivor the sole owner?

The house is in California and owned by both of my parents, both are California residents. I am not aware if there is any form from the superior court resource that deals with this issue (closest being the spousal transfer form) directly.

John B. Palley
John B. Palley answered on Feb 7, 2020

Assuming the deed says "in joint tenancy" or "as joint tenants"then you would just need to record an "affidavit of death of joint tenant" form. Can probably get that online somewhere. I believe a preliminary change of ownership form is also required which can be be obtained from the county... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Probate for California on
Q: how do we or can we cash checks received for deceased relative

my brother in law passed away in December 2019. he has no spouse, no children, no assets, bank account was closed while he was sick.

in January we received a check from his union payable to him for a pension plan and 4 payroll checks from his employer paying out his vacation time.... Read more »

John B. Palley
John B. Palley answered on Feb 4, 2020

No, do not use power of attorney and/or open account in decedent's name. The POA ended at his death. You should find California small estate affidavits. There are free forms online. The next of kin (one or more people) would all sign that form and send back with the original check. They should... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Probate for California on
Q: My mother passed away the mobile is in her name. Do I need to probate to change the name?

She also has a balloon payment of $53,000 on the lot due in September of 2021. Does the payment need to be paid before I change the title to my name?

John B. Palley
John B. Palley answered on Feb 4, 2020

It sounds like she owned the lot also!? The lot is real property and thus requires some type of probate court action to clear title depending on the value. The mobile itself transfers by the department of housing and does not require probate court.

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1 Answer | Asked in Probate for California on
Q: Do my husband and his sister need to complete a nomination form if they would like me to serve as administrator

They are the only two heirs to their father's estate and he died intestate, without a will. They are in agreement that they'd like me to serve as administrator, but I am unsure if a Nomination form is required as attachment to the DE-111

John B. Palley
John B. Palley answered on Feb 1, 2020

Can’t hurt but most judges won’t require.

4 Answers | Asked in Probate for California on
Q: My mother, a California resident, passed away recently and I’m unsure whether her estate is a small estate.

I understand that if my mother’s estate doesn’t qualify as a small estate, within 30 days after her death, I must file her will in the superior court of the county in which she lived.

There are several financial instruments (CDs) that she owned that I can’t yet tell if she set up as... Read more »

John B. Palley
John B. Palley answered on Jan 31, 2020

You should for sure lodge the will with the probate court. You don’t have to start a probate. Just lodge the will. Might cost $50 or so.

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3 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law and Probate for California on
Q: How can one trust beneficiary purchase shares of a home from two other beneficiaries? Revocable trust.

I understand successor trustee can grant deed 1/3 of property to me, as parent to child transfer, then I can purchase my two brother's shares through escrow. What are the details of this process?

John B. Palley
John B. Palley answered on Jan 25, 2020

Definitely work with an attorney familiar with this process. There are a couple ways to get around the parent to child problem. The most common is to do a written agreement showing other estate assets going to siblings. This requires that the estate have equal amounts of money. If not, the other... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for California on
Q: Dad passed oct 2019, mom passed dec 2019. There is no will & there is a mortgage. Do I continue to pay house?
John B. Palley
John B. Palley answered on Jan 23, 2020

Assuming there is equity in the house I would pay the mortgage so you don’t lose it to the bank. If it’s not in a trust you should get probate started right away.

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1 Answer | Asked in Probate for California on
Q: I'm not the sole next of kin. I have a brother and two sisters.

They have each told me they want me to keep the money for taking care of my mom. I was her power of attorney, although I realize that ended with my mother's death. Thank you very much.

John B. Palley
John B. Palley answered on Jan 6, 2020

I suggest you have them sign something that simply says they assign their interest to you. That way when you sign the small estate affidavit you will be signing honestly that you are legally entitled to the whole account. Good luck.

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for California on
Q: Hello, my mother passed away in December 2017. she lived with me for the last 10 years of her life. She had no will.

she had $1,400 in her checking account when she passed. I recently received a letter from her bank stating that after three years they may transfer her property to the state of California. Can I get this money and how do I get it? Thank you very much.

John B. Palley
John B. Palley answered on Jan 6, 2020

Assuming you are entitled to the money (sole next of kin or named in will) then do a small estate affidavit. Forms available at some banks but, if not, then online. That should be it. Just google "California free small estate affidavit form" or something like that. Good luck.

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