Under probate in California, does the state verify if the claimed surviving spouse is legally registered with record proof as part of proceedings ? If verified not legally married, will the claimed spouse is entitled to estate or property of a deceased claimed husband without a will ? Appreciate your answer.
2 Answers from Attorneys
The court does not verify a claimed spouse's status as being a spouse. That is up to the other parties to challenge.
Mr. Roach is correct, but let me explain a little further. Probate is not an investigative proceeding. The Probate Court hears petitions from anyone who wishes to be appointed to administer a deceased person's estate, chooses between competing petitions if there are more than one, oversees the administration of the estate (although pretty much with a rubber stamp if the papers appear in order, unless an heir or potential heir objects to something), and rules on objections or challenges to anything the administrator is doing. So if the claimed surviving spouse applies to be administrator of the estate, or if the administrator proposes to distribute estate assets to her as surviving spouse, it is up to the other heirs or potential heirs to file a claim and make the allegation that he or she was not legally married to the deceased at the time of death. If the claimed spouse is found not to be legally married to the deceased at the time of death, they would not be entitled to any of the deceased's estate unless they had some claim of joint ownership outside of marriage (such as if they had bought a car or a house together and were both on title) or as a creditor of the estate.