Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in California

I have been married to my husband for 10 years. We have lived together for 20 years. We are both in our 50's and reside in CA. My husband refuses to share any of his financial information with me. Recently i have been gathering information together in the event that we should pass away. I have asked him for the names of his bank accounts and passwords, and other important info in case he should pass. He wont give it to me. Our home thankfully is in my name. He has no will or life insurance. He wont even discuss his yearly income (self employed) with me. He is the main provider of our household. If he should pass, before me, will i be able to gain access legally to his bank accounts so that I am able to pay monthly living expenses?

Asked on 9/13/14, 7:51 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Michele Cusack Pollak & Cusack

You probably will have to file for probate to gain access to accounts which are in his name only. If there is no will, you will be entitled to receive all of his share of community property and some of his separate property- how much depends on whether he has children and how many. It might be difficult to determine what is CP (derived from earnings during the marriage) and what is SP (what he already had before the marriage or has inherited.) During the probate proceedings, which take a while, the court can grant you a family allowance for living expenses and/or approve a preliminary distribution.

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Answered on 9/13/14, 10:43 am
Terry A. Nelson Nelson & Lawless

You assuredly will have to file a Probate proceeding on his death to gain any access to his estate, accounts, property, etc. unless he changes his mind and gets a will or a trust done to protect you. Doesn't sound like he will do so, and will leave you high and dry without funds until the court can sort out the estate. You might consider taking out a life insurance policy on him with you as beneficiary, to have funds immediately on his death.

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Answered on 9/14/14, 1:27 pm

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