Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in California

My mother past away about 2 weeks ago. It was only me and my sister, the catch is that my mother has a large home with allot of expensive merchandise. Me & my sister are not sure if my mother left a Last Will & Trust. Me & my sister are both on the death certificate but my sisters boyfriend works for the mortuary were my mother was cremated. I'm not sure if my sister will try to get over on me while I'm at work, were as she can go to the bank and try to seize my mothers bank info, deed & trust to the home etc. without me? Can she do that with me not being there & take everything? She also had a live in boyfriend for 11 years, what are the legal rights that he has to the house until me & my sister locate the Last Will?

Asked on 7/12/13, 10:07 am

3 Answers from Attorneys

Jennifer Rouse Meissner Joseph & Palley
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I am sorry for your loss.

You can check the title on the house with the county recorder's office where your mother lived to see if the house was in her name alone, had someone else on title or it was titled in her trust. If she held title as joint tenants with someone else, then the house will pass to that person.

If it is in her name alone and her estate subject to probate is worth more than $150,000, then a court proceeding will be required to either probate her Will if one exists or administer her estate per intestate succession.

The issue with the bank accounts also depends on the titling and the value.

Unless your mother's boyfriend is on title to the house or the accounts, he is only entitled to his own possessions in the house. California does not recognize common law marriages.

If you are concerned about your sister's actions, you should hire a probate attorney to assist you.

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7/12/13, 10:33 am
Scott Jordan Jordan Law Office
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I, too, am sorry for your loss.

Ms. Rouse's advice is very good and you should follow it.

As for the will or trust, did your mother have a personal attorney? Did she have a safe deposit box or may home safe? Did she have a personal financial planner?

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7/12/13, 10:50 am
William Christian Rodi Pollock
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It is unfortunate that you have concerns as to your sisters likely actions. I would generally reccomend that you and you sister go to discuss the required steps with an effective trusts and estates attorney. Take with you all information you can locate as to the ownerhsip of the home (the deed), the beneficiary on the life insurance, the bank accounts, her car and any other titled assets. If you are concerned as tho the homes contents, either list or video them so you can identify anything that may be removed.

I agree as to the suggestions on trying to locate the will, if any. The attorney you will engage can assist in advising what steps will be required for administration once the information is obtained and reviewed. If necessary for you to each have separate counsel for thematter, that can then be accomplished. This gratuitous response does not create an attorney client relationship. The advice provided herein is generic, may not apply to your circumstances and is not to be relied upon in your actions. An attorney client relationship is created only upon execution of an engagement letter hiring me or my firm.

This gratuitous response does not create an attorney client relationship. The advice provided herein is generic, may not apply to your circumstances and is not to be relied upon in your actions. An attorney client relationship is created only upon execution of an engagement letter hiring me or my firm.

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7/12/13, 11:05 am

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