Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in California

My mom and dad bought a house and the deed is only in my mom's name. My dad signed the paper that he is not on the loan. My mom passed away. Does the house automatically go to my dad? Is he financially responsible for the loan even if he is not on it? Also the credit cards that are only in her name does he have to pay off? There was no will. Please help.

Thank you

Asked on 2/23/11, 12:11 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

George Shers Law Offices of Georges H. Shers

Unless the property was purchase with your mother's private, non-community property funds [money she brought into the marriage, or inherited while married], then it was bought with community funds and your father was a half owner at the time of the purchase [actually, if the house has appreciated in value would be better if it was not community property as then the entire property would get a stepped up basis, but I do not think he can deny the community property nature of the ownership even though he is not on title]. Since there is no Will, if the gross value of the house is greater than $100,000, the estate must go through probate. see Probate Code Section 601-4. Depending on the number of your mother's hildren, your father gets 1/3 to 1/2 of the private property.

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Answered on 2/23/11, 7:28 am

Jonathan Reich De Castro, West, Chodorow, Glickfeld & Nass, Inc.

I am sorry for you loss. Unfortunately, however, if the house was only in your mom's name and there was no will or trust it will have to be go through a Court probate if the value is greater than $100,000. As Mr. Shers noted, if the house was community property then half already belongs to your father but some work will still be needed to get title to the house into his name. Most likely he will also have to pay off the credit card bills.

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Answered on 2/23/11, 9:57 am

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