Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in California

My sister has a trust and upon her passing 2 months ago I was going through the paper work and see she had made some changes to her trust. She omitted a CD that she has and upon checking with the bank I was told I would need a letter from an attorney to say it was accidentally omitted or it would have to go through probate. At the time she had changes made to her trust she was having chemo and was on pain medication and other meds also. She has left everything to the family so the omission was not intentional. What options do I have?

Asked on 7/30/17, 7:53 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

John Palley Meissner, Joseph, Palley & Ruggles, Inc.

I am sorry for your loss. This is a pretty simple situation, potentially, depending on a couple things. First, if the total assets omitted from the trust is less than $150k then you can just do a California small estate affidavit. This is a very simple thing that you can do without the aid of an attorney. You would look for a California small estate affidavit form on the internet, have the money paid to the trust and then distribute with the other trust assets. If greater than $150k then you either need to do a Heggstad petition or a full probate. Based on the facts I would look at a Heggstad first. My website,, has more info or just email or call me and we can discuss. This is generally a much less costly option than a full probate and is always significantly quicker than a full probate. The last option, if the facts don't work for a Heggstad, would be a full probate. We generally try to avoid probate and leave it as the last option. I hope this helps. We do Heggstads throughout the state and would be happy to chat with you Monday morning if you contact me. -John

P.S. Irregardless of the above you may want an attorney to represent you as trustee for the trust administration duties. That's a separate issue but one that shouldn't be ignored as there are things to do from a legal standpoint.

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Answered on 7/30/17, 8:20 am

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