Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in California

Resubmitting question with more details.

Uncle died 3 years ago, March of 2020. Had a traditional will (not a trust) with 4 beneficiaries: two nieces and two nephews. One of which is executor (my cousin). House was put up for sale in 2021 and sold fairly fast. Yet the executor didn't have power to sell the house if the estate wasn't in probate? He implies he's still working on getting the accounting ready, and waiting on some government bonds he tracked down.

Does it sound like it's been in probate since 2020? I got the impression he hadn't applied for that stage yet. It's hard to get a clear answer from him. I'm getting impatient and concerned on this three year mark. Should I keep waiting?

Asked on 3/12/23, 3:44 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Timothy McCormick Haapala, Thompson & Abern, LLP

It sounds like a probate was opened. It would be very hard to sell real property of a dead person without probate court approval, since no one can sign a deed to the buyer(s) without it. So unless you have reason to believe your cousin pretended your uncle was still alive AND somehow managed to forge his name to a deed AND bamboozled a notary to notarize the deed to the buyer, you can be fairly confident the estate is in probate. So your next step should be to find out what the status is in the probate court. That starts with looking up the public records in the probate court in the county in which your uncle lived when he passed away. If it looks like things are not in order, your option is to petition the probate court to replace the cousin with someone else as executor.

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Answered on 3/14/23, 9:45 am

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