Q: My roommate’s mother died recently. How can he find if there was a will or claim a right to the estate?
My roommate’s mother passed away a couple months ago. He and his brother are her only surviving family, but they are estranged due to my roommate coming out as a gay man. He believes that she had no will. When my roommate went home for the funeral, he discovered his mother’s home had been cleared out by his brother. His brother then put the home on the market 2 weeks after her passing and it sold quickly. It seems as if the brother is trying to take advantage of the situation and exclude my roommate from inheriting anything. He has found out about all of this from friends who still live in the area. Can you recommend real steps he should take, keeping in mind he kind of shuts down when I press him to look into it? Thank you.
After a person passes away in California, depending on the value of the estate, the executor of his/her estate may need to probate the will with the local court. To start probate, an estate representative (usually the executor) files a Petition for probate of will with the local superior court in the county in which the decedent resided. Upon the filing of a Petition to probate, the probate clerk will create a file for the court case. Anyone can view this file at the courthouse. To get a copy of the will, appear in person to the court clerk and ask for a copy. You will be required to pay a small fee.
In addition, California Probate Code Section 8200 states:
The custodian of a will shall, within 30 days after having knowledge of the death of the testator, do both of the following: (1) Deliver the will to the clerk of the superior court of the county in which the estate of the decedent may be administered; (2) Mail a copy of the will to the person named in the will as executor, if the person’s whereabouts is known to the custodian, or if not, to a person named in the will as a beneficiary, if the person’ s whereabouts is known to the custodian.
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