My father recently passed away. He lived in California until the day of his death. He was remarried to a woman for 20 yrs. She remains alive. He was 82 yrs old. They have a home in both names in California. They had separate banks with both savings and cking accts but her name was on his bank accounts. 2 weeks before my dads death he wrote a short will in his handwriting as a notary was present stating upon his death that "all" his assets and property would be "equally" divided between his grandson (also lives in California) and his wife. But his wife is not complying with this will. My father left a house, life ins., and a bank account. All assets in California. My question is this...since the wife is not complying to the will are myself and my siblings entitled to anything?.. the deed is in both their names, along with bank accts and she is named as beneficiary on the his life ins....or what role does the will play now?
3 Answers from Attorneys
The will fails. He needed to change all of the other titles to his assets to his name, as well as the beneficiary to the life policy,so as to allow him to will his estate or allow you to inherit his share of the estate; however one half of the estate would have remained the wife' share of the community property and would not be subject to his direction. This assumes all property was acquired during marriage, and that any separate property brought into the marriage was comingled, and therefore lost the character of being separate. By the way wills are not notarized in Califormnia and add nothing to the validity of the execution.
The fact that your stepmother is not complying with the will does not give you and your siblings any rights. The grandson would have a right to enforce the will, to the extent that the distribution of any assets are controlled by it. As Mr. Wald suggests, it is not at all clear what assets are subject to the will, and what assets are subject to community property laws, joint tenancy laws, and beneficiary statements on the bank accounts.
I think Mr. Waid never fully read your question. It is impossible for your father to change his will, because he is deceased.
The first issue that I see is whether the will is valid. You mention a notary, but notaries are not what is required to make a valid will. The will could be a valid holographic will if all of the material terms and his signature are in his handwriting.
If the will is valid, his grandson has rights under the will, and would want the will probated. The will itself should be lodged with the court, which is the safest place for it.
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