Q: Can a spousal property petition override rules of succession in California?
My mom bought her house before she married my stepdad and then added him to the deed without right of survivorship 15 years after they were married. They were married for 25 years. My mom then died without a will. If my stepdad files a spousal property petition, could he be granted my share of my Mom's half of the house or do the rules of succession override a spousal property petition?
It would be helpful to have some additional information, including exactly how the deed adding your stepdad was titled, as well as how long they were married. Assuming you are the only child, you would be entitled to fifty percent of your Mom's separate property and that would have to be probated. If there is more than one child, the children receive 2/3 and your stepdad would receive 1/3.
Depending upon the length of marriage, your stepdad could try to claim it was community property if it was a very lengthy marriage and community property funds were used to make mortgage payments, paid taxes, insurance, repairs and the like. If he succeeds in claiming it was community property, he will receive 100% of the property.
As these are very fact-intensive matters, you should present everything to an attorney who can more accurately advise you.
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A: A lawyer would need more information to properly advise you. For example, how is the property titled between your mother and step--father? If it was titled as joint tenancy, then your step-father likely received 100% of the property when your mother passed. Real estate held in joint tenancy does not need to go through probate unless there is a specific reason to challenge the trust, such as your mother lost her mental capacity due to Alzheimer's before she signed the deed adding your step-father. If the property is titled in some other way besides joint tenancy, the property will likely need to go through probate. In that case, you may want to get an attorney to advise you on your rights. PLEASE let this be a life lesson for your family. Having an estate plan is so very important for protecting families. About 60% of our country has NO estate plan and issues like this are the result. You and your siblings should take note and see an estate planning lawyer in your state to be sure your loved ones do not have to go through the probate court process in order to get your estate straightened out. Thank you!
1 user found this answer helpful
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