Sacramento, CA asked in Probate for California

Q: Who has the responsibility to file probate for a person that died without a will or trust & what if this was not done?

The husband of 8 months took over because he lived in HER house & he was able to ascertain what he could take after gaining access to her accounts. He was able to take everything (including her ashes) & he took most of it illegally. He was not named on any of her assets. He only paid her a portion of his paycheck every month for expenses. They did not co-mingle their money. He intentionally blocked her family members from getting involved in settling her estate. He also refused to pay known debts. He has avoided filing for probate even though her assets well exceed the threshold for filing for probate. I've have not been able to find an attorney that will help except one office provided California legislation about Intestate Succession which states how her estate should be divided given that she has a living parent. Considering I can't find an attorney that is willing to help, can anybody file for probate and can it be done without an attorney? Shouldn't this be reported to the courts?

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2 Lawyer Answers
Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Probate Lawyer
  • Crossville, TN
  • Licensed in California

A: Any interested party can open a probate case for a decedent. It does not have to be the surviving spouse. It could be an adult child or adult sibling or even surviving parent. Or a creditor. But you will find this a whole lot easier to navigate with the assistance of a probate attorney. There is no law that says you must hire an attorney; it's just a lot smoother and easier that way and you will probably end up with a better result.

James Edward Berge agrees with this answer

James Edward Berge
James Edward Berge
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • San Jose, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: No one has the responsibility to file a court petition to probate a decedent's estate. If there are no assets subject to probate, there's no need to file for probate or to be appointed as the personal representative for a decedent's estate. Anyone who is an heir to property belonging to the decedent's estate may file for probate. Certain family members are given priority if there are competing petitions filed. Spouse will get first dibs on the job, followed by the children. The heirs of the estate include the surviving spouse and the children. If you have questions about your rights as a child in a share of the estate, you should consult a probate attorney right away.

1 user found this answer helpful

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