When someone passes away, then their estate
has to be distributed. The problem is that without probate - with assets such as titled property or bank accounts - this is hard to do. This is because you cannot switch over the assets without an order from the probate court, and simply a Certificate of Death will not do. A Certificate of Death simply states that someone has passed on, but does not give you the right to really do anything in the deceased's name.
So one files probate. Once probate is filed, the Executor of the estate gets something called a Letter of Testament/Administration
(hereinafter "Letter"). This Letter will allow the Executor to switch over the assets from the deceased individual to whoever will own the property. It is like a "Power of Attorney," but from the Court. Without that Letter, there is no way to transfer titled property and switch the assets into the beneficiaries' hands.The Executor is also entrusted to distribute non-titled property and assets per the Will left by the deceased
. If this has not happened - and arguably it has not - then one may (1) file a motion in probate court if the probate matter is still open to HOLD THE EXECUTOR RESPONSIBLE, undo the damage, and possibly have them removed and someone else appointed, or, if the probate matter is already closed, (2) reopen it, or, pursue a separate civil case for negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, conversion, etc.
An attorney is STRONGLY recommended here. One does have rights, but it is important to act fast.
May I recommend the CA Bar referral program - here
. The attorneys are vetted and qualified. You should be able to find an attorney you are confident with and whom you can trust, and who is available ASAP.
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