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Barrister
Barrister, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 34788
Experience:  16 yrs practice, Civil, Criminal, Domestic, Realtor, Landlord 26 yrs
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I am a 76-year old widower living alone in Californis, about

Customer Question

I am a 76-year old widower living alone in Californis, about 60 miles away from my only son and his family.
My will is in my safe deposit box. I am the only one with access. My son's family are the only heirs. He has a copy of the will.
In the event of my death, it will take about 6 weeks for him to get access to the box.
His wife is handicapped and family needs militate against his coming here to sign up for access to the box.
He already has survivors rights to my finances through my broker, but not the house.
QUESTIONS--
1) If he had access to the box and therefore the will, would that in fact require probate?
2) could he access the house and dispose of property before gaining access?
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Barrister replied 8 months ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney who will try my very best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I research statutes or ordinances and type out an answer or reply, but rest assured, I am working on your question.

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1) If he had access to the box and therefore the will, would that in fact require probate?
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This depends on how you have your assets titled. If you have everything titled jointly with someone else, or have beneficiaries names on things like bank accounts and investment accounts, then there wouldn't be any reason for probate because there is no probate estate.

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But if you have assets in your name only...vehicles, real estate, bank accounts, etc. then those assets go into your probate estate and have to go through probate. So since you say the house is not set up as joint tenants with right of survivorship, it would go into your probate estate and have to go through probate unless you change that. You could do so fairly easily with a "transfer on death" (TOD) deed that automatically transfers the property to son upon your passing without it having to go through probate.

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2) could he access the house and dispose of property before gaining access?

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Legally no. But realistically, probably. There likely wouldn't be anyone who would prevent him from entering your home and removing personal property before he was legally appointed as executor of your estate.

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thanks

Barrister

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