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May 18, 2021

When Is a Real Property Deed Effective in California?

California’s “statute of frauds” requires that a deed that transfers title in real property must be in writing. The parties to a grant deed are the grantor, the owner, and the receiver of title, the grantee. With a quitclaim deed the owner transferring the property is commonly called the “quitclaimor.” Many falsely believe only the act of recording a deed transfers title and if not recorded the deed is ineffective. There are times when an effective deed […]
May 17, 2021

What Is Ancillary Probate in California?

An “ancillary probate” is a proceeding when a person dies with property in more than one state or dies in one state with property in another. If a person dies owning assets in his or her sole name or as a tenant in common, then chances are the assets will need to be probated in order to get them out of the decedent’s name and into the names of his or her heirs or beneficiaries. […]
May 14, 2021

What Does a Probate Court Do?

In general, probate means that there is a court case that deals with: Deciding if a will exists and is valid; Figuring out who are the decedent’s heirs or beneficiaries; Figuring out how much the decedent’s property is worth; Taking care of the decedent’s financial responsibilities; and Transferring the decedent’s property to the heirs or beneficiaries. In a probate case, an executor (if there is a will) or an administrator (if there is no will) […]
May 13, 2021

What Happens in California if You Cannot Find the Will?

A common question that a probate attorney is asked is how to obtain a copy of a last Will and Testament. Locating the Will may be urgent if funeral or burial instructions are contained in the Will or if anatomical gifts or the authority to conduct an autopsy are granted in the Will. First of all note that you cannot ask to see a copy of a living person’s Will – this is because while […]
May 12, 2021

My Spouse (or Registered Domestic Partner) Left Me Property, What Should I Do?

In California, spouses or registered domestic partners are given privileged status in regards to collecting the assets of their deceased partner’s estate. After the death of a spouse or domestic partner, a spousal property petition can be used to transfer assets from the deceased spouse or domestic partner to the surviving spouse or domestic partner. It is a simplified probate, and takes much less time than a full probate. Legal fees are usually much lower […]
May 11, 2021

Probate and Blended Families

Blended families, which are now quite common, come in all different shapes and sizes. For example, the husband may have his own children, the wife may have her own children and the couple may have children together. For most, a second marriage or more can be a blessing. But for some they come with special challenges, especially in the area of probate. When you and/or your spouse have children from previous relationships, in addition to their […]
May 10, 2021

Payable on Death (POD) and Transfer on Death (TOD) Accounts

The form of ownership determines how property will be managed during the owner’s lifetime and how it will be distributed at the owner’s death. Alternative methods of transferring property on death are sometimes known as “nonprobate transfers,” which include transfers made under California Probate Code §5000. If an account, e.g., a bank account, is payable-on-death (POD) or is a retirement account, e.g., an IRA or non tax deferred brokerage account, is transfer–on-death, with a designated beneficiary (TOD), at death […]
May 7, 2021

Ownership of Real Property by Same-sex Couples in California

As with heterosexual relationships, breakup or death are the two possible endings for homosexual relationships. The manner in which property is held affects the outcome of co-owned property between same-sex couples, just as it does with opposite-sex couples. Manner of Holding Title Or Ownership By Multiple Parties Since 1872, California law has defined four types of ownership interests in real property by multiple persons: 1) joint interests; 2) partnership interests; 3) interests in common; and […]
May 6, 2021

Out of State Wills

Many people migrate to California each year. The fact that thousands of people come to California means that their estate planning instruments also follow them to California. If you were domiciled in another state or outside the U.S. and prepared your Will in that other state or foreign country (both regarded as “foreign Wills”), but later change your domicile to California, is your foreign Will valid in California if you die? Yes. Under California Probate Code §6113 a foreign Will is valid […]