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LawTalk, Attorney and Counselor at Law
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 37818
Experience:  30 years legal experience. I remain current in Family Law through regular continuing education.
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I am a surviving spouse in California. My husbands will left

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I am a surviving spouse in California. My husband's will left everything to me. Do I need to probate his will. If not, there are a couple of things in his name only, how do I get those things transferred into my name?
Good morning,

I'm Doug, and I'm sorry to hear of the confusion.

Items which are licensed in his name will have to be processed through probate so you can have them placed in your name.

Additionally, even though he may have left everything to you, you will have to probate the will and make sure that his creditors are paid and the final tax return filed. You will want a local estate law attorney to assist you with this. Without the court order from the probate court, you have no way to do things like transfer vehicle titles into your name.

You may reply back to me again, using the Reply to Expert link, if you have additional questions.

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I wish you the best in 2012,

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

This answer makes me more confused because in my internet search I read an article from another law firm that said:


"When someone dies, the first question is whether there will be a probate proceeding?


If all of the assets are in a living trust or joint tenancy, then the answer will be no. If the deceased person has more than $100,000 of assets in his or her name alone and there is no surviving spouse or the assets were not left to the spouse, the answer will be yes."


There is not more than $100,000 in assets in his name and I am the surviving spouse so wouldn't that mean NO probate?



Hi Cynthia,


There are full probate actions, and Small Estate probate actions.

Lets back up. What property specifically is in his name? Cars, real property, motor homes?

Yes, for small estates( less than $100,000 now, and as of Jan. 1 it will rise to $150,000) there are very abbreviated methods of settlement of the estate, and a formal probate action is often not needed.


Customer: replied 4 years ago.

He has his motorcycle and a parcel of land in UTAH that is under his name only. The total value of both items is well under $100,000. Everything else is held in both our names.

Thanks for the additional information.

Cynthia, I'm sorry, but real property can not be transferred to a surviving spouse through the Small Estate process in CA. Under CA law, where real property is bequeathed in a will, the will must be probated through court in order to be placed in the name of the beneficiary. You are going to need a local Estate attorney to assist you.

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