06 Jan A Cautionary Tale: Regardless of Mom’s Wishes, No Living Trust Means Probate
We recently worked with a man from Orinda who owned a home with his mother. The title was in both of their names, and they thought they were joint tenants, but this was not stated on the deed. As joint owners, it was always their assumption that when the mother died, the son would become the sole owner of the home.
Mother failed to document her wishes in a Living Trust
Unfortunately, the mother never got around to documenting her wishes in a Living Trust, and when she died, her estate went into Probate, the court-supervised process of administering an estate. In addition to her son, she also had a daughter, who had never contributed to the home’s ownership, but according to the rules of Probate, the mother’s estate would be divided equally between her two children.
Fortunately, these siblings are on good terms and agreed to work together to get the Probate done and later make accommodation between them for the brother’s investment in the home. Probate is a long, intensive, multi-step process; depending on the complexity of the estate it can take a year or more to complete. It involves:
- Filing for Probate to become named as the Personal Representative
- Inventorying all assets which must be appraised by a court-appointed Probate referee
- Payment of all debts and taxes
- Distributing the estate
Using expertly written materials, experienced California Document Preparers Legal Document Assistants can guide you through the Probate process.
If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to create a Living Trust for yourself and/or your aging parents or grandparents, we encourage you to contact one of our offices today. We make the process as easy and stress-free as possible.