Q: Do we have to go to probate court for all assets on an estate even if we only have questions on a portion of the estate?
My father recently passed away. He did not have a will. My mother is alive and was his legal spouse. Most of the assets are in both of their names. My dad had a life insurance policy on me and one for my sister where he was beneficiary. My mom was not listed on the policies. He had taken out a loan on these policies (Whole Life) but we do not know how much is left to pay or what the cash value is; however, we were advised there is a cash value. We were advised the policies can be surrendered to his estate or we can take them over by filling out a change form. We want any money entitled to go to my Mother. It sounds like a probate asset and we are unsure what to do. If we surrender these to the estate, does this mean that we have to go to court for all of the other assets (even joint assets)? How do we proceed?
A: You don't have to go to court at all, if your mother will be administering his estate. Have her meet with an attorney as to what to do, as the attorney will want to review all assets and debts related to the estate, before giving any definitive answer. If you or your sister intend to administer your father's estate, then you or she need to meet with a probate attorney, to iron out all that will be required. The more information regarding your father's assets and how they are all titled that you can bring to the consultation, the better.
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