Q: A (long time) divorced woman died intestate, how do heirs claim estate? Specifically real property?
A woman (long divorced) died, no will, trust, or direction. Survived by 1 natural child, 1 adopted, and 1 grandchild. How do her heirs claim estate?
A: The children can file a probate petition in superior court.
Since the woman likely has assets exceeding $166,250 (it's hard to find real estate worth less than that in California!), her family will have to go through a court proceeding called probate before they can inherit her assets. If she had signed a Trust before passing away, the family would not have to go through the court process, which often lasts between one and two years. But, unfortunately, since she did no estate planning, her family will have no choice but to go through the court process. To start a probate, a Petition must be prepared and filed with the court, and a filing fee paid to the court. If her family has not prepared legal documents previously, they will likely need to hire a probate attorney to assist them.
Please let this case serve as an example to you and your loved ones. If you have assets exceeding $166,250, you likely need a Trust (not a Will) to avoid the whole probate process. I wish you all the best.
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