Hi.My mother passed away June 12 in state of California. To my knowledge she left no will. She has been divorced from my father for 20+ years. She has four adult children including myself. No grandkids. She owned a home that still has a substantial mortgage due to a refinance. She owned a car that is not yet paid off. She had social security and a monthly payment from her pension as a state worker. I believe that she basically had used up all of her state pension as she had drawn against it for many years and did not have that many years invested in it.Unfortunately, two of my siblings were living in the home with her when she passed. One had lived with her for many years, was employed most of the time but never paid rent. The second moved in with mom about a year ago, she has not been employed for about 20 yrs and had no place to go. Both have "issues" with alcohol.My mom expressed many times that she wanted her estate, such as it is, to go equally to all her children. The problem is the two living in the house want to stay in the home. They seem to think if they continue to pay mom's mortgage payment that they can just stay. Since my other sibling and I have our own homes, those two feel they deserve to keep mom's house for themselves.Mom did put the one sibling who lived with her for years onto her checking account recently when she became ill. This gives him access to auto-deposited social security and pension funds which he intends to use to continue to pay the mortgage and the living expenses of himself and unemployed sibling. He is also continuing to drive mom's car. I made funeral arrangements for mom as those had not been arranged or pre-paid and I know the funeral home filed the death certificate with social security. I purchased 10 certified death certificates from the funeral home.My other independent sibling and myself would like to see mom's home sold to pay her debts (the mortgage, the funeral expenses I paid, her car, etc) and if anything is leftover, it be distributed equally between all the children. To avoid conflict with the others we have done nothing yet. Should we open probate with a certified death certificate and just let the court settle it? Should we file death certificates with mom's pension plan, her mortgage company, car loan and bank now or let the probate court appoint an administrator and let them do it? We are concerned that our siblings will continue to spend checks coming from the pension, etc and those may need to be repaid. We know probate can take time and in the interim we are trying to minimize the depreciation of the assets (home and car) but we are locked out of the house and have little control over our two non-independent siblings. The one who lived with mom for years is well-meaning but naive and the other is manipulative and nasty. It's a mess and we want to keep things as civil as possible but also make things fair for all.
State/Country relating to question: California
Welcome. This site allows for a general response that will help you with your legal issue. If necessary, for specific advice contact a local attorney. I am happy to help. If you need clarification, hit reply and ask a follow up question before providing a rating. I am sorry for your loss. You seem very responsible because you provide some pertinent facts to help understand what is happening. YES, the BEST way to proceed in situations similar to the facts you present is to petition the court for what are sometimes known as Letters Of Administration. The Court can appoint an Estate Administrator when someone dies without a will. Also, when someone is divorced, with children, in most cases, the assets pass to the children, equally (or distribution to their heirs pursuant to statute). The person who can apply can be any of the children. HOWEVER, other children can cross petition, or object to the initial petition. I have worked on these type of cases. Unfortunately, you are in a situation that must be confronted asap because waiting only makes matter worse. One way to keep it civil when their is dispute and no settlement, is to attempt to agree to have the court make a decision when there are conflicting opinions. This is complicated but I believe you understand the best course of action. I want you to know that I understand your situation. This information is informative and helpful. If you need clarification, hit reply and let me know. Otherwise, please provide a positive rating so I can get credit for helping you. Thank you.
Helping You with Estates, Real Estate and Business Law.
I just recieved the death certificates and will likely ask my other responsible sibling to file to be the administrator since he lives in the same county as our mom did and I do not. He will be able to do the legwork necessary. He and I are in close contact. If he files for the Letters of Administration, will the probate court notify the other heirs so that they can dispute? Left to their own devices the two dependent ones will do nothing.
Will the mortgage company just "freeze" the mortgage for now until the home can be sold and the mortgage repaid? I am concerned the one sibling will try to continue to pay and will get in over his head. Will they be allowed to live there while decisions are made? We have no issue with that, it will actually allow them time to make further plans for themselves.
It is our wish that the courts decide things if there are disputes so that we cannot be blamed for throwing them out of "their" house. If two siblings want one solution and two another and no compromise can be reached, will it automatically default to the court's decision?
Hi: I am happy you "got it." You are correct, the probate court will notify or cite all the heirs. NOTE: Mortgage companies file for default and foreclosure quickly and add on substantial penalties and interest. It is in everyone's best interest to keep making the mortgage payments. Even when the estate is administered, the adimiistator should contact the mortgage company to make sure that all payments are up to date. At that time, the estate administrator may attempt to work something out with mortgage company. If necessary, court involved can be had. Siblings who currently live in the house that is to be inherited by all children sometime have to pay rent but other times can claim that they have a right to their share of the house and they choose to stay there. So, court involvement may be necessary to sell the house. Yes, you are right, if it is two siblings against two siblings, the court will decide. If you need further clarification, reply and let me know. Otherwise please provide a positive rating so I receive credit for providing you this service. Much appreciated, DamienDamienBosco41091.0198490741
Hi:I just want you to know that I am available for your future legal questions. Feel free to contact me. You can book mark my page as set forth below.Best regard, Damien BoscoTo Bookmark - copy and paste the following address to upload page to bookmark: http://www.justanswer.com/law/expert-expert-damien-bosco/
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).