I thought I would start a series sharing my Probate Ordeal with all of you in hopes of inspiring you and your loved ones to make a will or better yet, a living trust. Especially if you live in California.
You see, if you have a living trust in Cali, your loved ones can more easily get what you want left to them. With a will, you still need to go through Probate Court, but then you will get what is left to you after it goes through the court.
If you do not have a will, then you have to go through the hell which is called Probate. You basically will need a lawyer(unless you are a lawyer) because there is A LOT to know. Everything must be accountable for. EVERYTHING. And once your appeal for what is called Letters of Administration goes through the court and is granted to you, nothing belongs to you, yet. You are just the ADMINISTRATOR of the Estate. You have to open up a checking account as the administrator, provide all kinds of documentation, go through a probate referee if you want to sell anything, etc. NOT FUN.
This is where I am at. I should also mention that I had to travel to Cali last October to appear in court as I lived out of state(usually your lawyer can just appear for you) and acting as judge was a commissioner(who deals with the state's money) who didn't even grant me the letters at that time as he wanted me to get BONDED because I live out of state(because they are afraid I am going to do something that will cost the state the precious money that will be owed to them regarding property). I was not happy.
Currently what I need to do is provide some bank statements, ask that checks issued to my mom be reissued to me as administrator of the estate, provide some other documentation and paperwork, change the title of mom's car, and go through the court to get my mom's house appraised(so I don't undersell it) and okayed to sell(at an acceptable price so I don't cheat the state out of any money). The lawyer will also file something called a First and Last Accounting and at some point the car and house (or money made from the sale) will belong solely to me and I will be able to pay my lawyer and be done with all this.