San Francisco, CA asked in Probate for California

Q: My brother passed away and I am his next of kin. I am trying to find out if he named a beneficiary for his pension and

am being stonewalled. At this point, I have not found a will or trust. The company will only notify beneficiaries via mail and will not even allow me to update my address to receive correspondence, saying they'll see if the mail is returned, which it will be. They are leaving me in an untenable position as the potential pension funds will pay off debts he owes. If I am not the beneficiary, I will need to walk away from property he owns because the net proceeds likely will not cover his debts. Because the pension company will not provide any information, I am left with no choice but to pay the mortgage on his property to prevent foreclosure. Do I have any recourse? All I want is information that will allow me to make decisions.

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1 Lawyer Answer
David Ostrove
David Ostrove
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: If you are your brother's sole next of kin, in California, you are most likely entitled to inherit his entire estate. But, did you have other brothers or sisters who predeceased this brother, leaving issue (ie children, grandchildren) ?.

As far as the pension is concerned, typically once you convince the pension administrator that you are a sole surviving heir, they will cooperate and disclose the needed information. Make all requests in writing and carefully explain all facts. It may be that you will need a lawyer to help you out. Situations such as yours happen everyday. Sometimes it takes a lawyer to get you what you need.

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