Orangevale, CA asked in Probate for California

Q: My father died without a will. How can I find out if there are life insurance policies, etc or rights to any property...

He died November 2014

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1 Lawyer Answer
David L. Crockett
David L. Crockett
  • Probate Lawyer
  • Newport Beach, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Unfortunately this is a situation that happens often. When someone dies without a will, there needs to be a person appointed by the probate court system to sign for and speak for the deceased person. As a child of your father, you are legally eligible to file a probate court petition and ask that you be appointed as the personal representative. Also, if your father had a surviving spouse or other children besides yourself, any one of them could apply to be the personal representative as well.

I am not evading your question but rather explaining that to be able to ask questions and get answers and cooperation from your father's banks and insurance companies there needs to be a court-appointed personal representative. The banks and insurance companies will typically want this to happen. An estate and probate lawyer could assist and figure out the situation of what your father owned and what insurance policies and other assets he might have as a first step. The next step is to prepare and inventory of what there is and ultimately determine who has the rights to inherit and get a court order to distribute the assets.

On the chance that you are named as a life insurance beneficiary or named as a "payable on death" beneficiary of a bank account, you may not need a probate personal administrator appointed. Again, you need an estate and probate lawyer to help figure this out. You might find my blog on probate matters helpful which can be found at

David L. Crockett, attorney/CPA/broker/Martindale Hubble AV preeminent rating

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