Redondo Beach, CA asked in Probate for California

Q: My dad owned a business (s-corp) with my mom as "joint tenants." He passed. Do his shares require probate?

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2 Lawyer Answers
Robert P. Taylor
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  • Huntington Beach, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: If you own something in "joint tenancy," that generally means that if one joint tenant dies, the other(s) automatically get the decedent's interest. In a case like this, you would expect the company's stock certificates to be issued to your parents as "joint tenants." I rarely see this done right, so if we're taling significant money, a consult with an estate, probate, or business formation attorney should be considered.

James L. Arrasmith
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  • Probate Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Under California law, if your dad owned shares in the S-Corporation as a joint tenant with your mom, his shares typically do not require probate upon his passing. Joint tenancy often includes a right of survivorship, allowing his shares to automatically transfer to your mom as the surviving joint tenant. However, it's essential to review the specific corporate documents and consult with legal counsel for precise guidance based on the company's bylaws and the nature of their ownership.

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