Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in California

My mother just passed away on July 3, 2013. Me & my older sister Kaila were here at the house when she passed. Once the EMT's came & took her to the hospital, I stayed here at the home to mk sure it was safe & my sister went to the hospital & signed off on my mothers death. My sisters boyfriend actually works at the Mortuary were my mother was cremated & they issue the death certificates. When my sister & I went to sign the paperwork for the cremation & the death certificate for my mother, my sister signed some papers by herself then I signed another form that me & my sister signed together (not sure which one I signed) but the certificate came back on Friday July 9, 2013 with only my sisters name on it. I am very upset about that in the fact my name is not on there along with hers. In this matter I don't fully trust my sister to do the right thing with my mothers estate & assests if im not there or at work, what all can she do w/ the DC if I'm not there? Please help!!

Asked on 7/22/13, 9:18 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Jennifer Rouse Meissner Joseph & Palley

Sorry for your loss.

A death certificate does not have dictate how the estate is distributed. Your sister's name probably appears on the certificate as the person who reported your mother's death. That line on the certificate only has one name.

How your mother's estate is distributed depends on whether she did any estate planning - a will and/or a trust - and how she designated beneficiaries on her accounts and life insurance. If your mother did not execute a trust and the gross value of her estate subjtect to probate is over $150,000, then it will have to go through probate of which you will be entitled to participate and get notice.

If your mother executed a trust, then who is trustee and how the estate is distributed depends on the terms of the trust.

Anyone named as a beneficiary of an account is entitled to those funds from the account outside of probate and a trust.

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Answered on 7/22/13, 9:24 am

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