Cousin died He did not leave a will

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tadamsmar
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by tadamsmar »

Duplicate post
Last edited by tadamsmar on Sun Aug 23, 2020 5:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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tadamsmar
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by tadamsmar »

dodecahedron wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 2:53 pm
tadamsmar wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 2:40 pm If I were you and I thought I was an heir and that I might inherit something, I would do one of the following:

1. Volunteer to be the executor.
2. Recruit someone to be the executor, if thought that was best.
3. Ask the presiding probate court to get on with it and choose an executor.

If you have analysis paralysis, then just do #3. I would contact the clerk of court and ask them to proceed with probate. I am pretty sure that an heir can petition the court to proceed with probate.
A terminology confusion is starting to really bother me.

If there is no valid will, as appears to be the case here, there will be no "executor."

An executor is a person officially appointed to be responsible for executing a will. That may or may not be the person designated as executor in the decedent's will, for a variety of reasons. The designated executor in the will may be unable or unwilling to perform due to death, disability, logistical issues, etc. If there is a valid will but the executor(s) named in the will is/are unable or unwilling to perform the duties of an executor, the court will appoint an executor to execute the will.

By contrast, if and when the court becomes satisfied that no valid will exists, they will declare that the deceased died intestate and appoint an *administrator* of the estate not an executor. There is a technical difference between those two terms.
Thanks for the link. I updated some of my posts. Looks like there are somewhat more state regulations binding an administrator.
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tadamsmar
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by tadamsmar »

And I think others could use whatever money that may come out of this.
I am dubious of the idea that being an estate administrator is charity work.

My experience with these matters is that it is almost 100% a business financial process governed by regulations. I find that relatives are always uncomfortable with this, relatives are not used to being in a business relationship. They want it to be more about family even if that not fully fair and in conformance with regulations. You know, the relatives want it to be more like a mafia operation.
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JoeRetire
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by JoeRetire »

DrGrnTum wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 2:38 pm My cousin just has the keys nothing else.

In this respect my cousin is just letting the house go.
If you are actually saying "my cousin is doing nothing", then I now understand what you meant by "letting the house go". I've never heard that phrase used with that context.

My assumption was that your cousin would sell it. Apparently, that wasn't what you meant.

Either way, talk with an estate attorney. They will explain the role of a representative/administrator in your locale. Then you can decide if it's something you want to take on personally, or have the estate pay for someone outside the family.
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CABob
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by CABob »

It occurs to me that if the house is worth about $280K and is the only thing of value in the estate and there are a potential 40 cousins as heirs, each heir has about $7000 coming to them before expenses. In my mind that puts a limit on the amount of time the OP or anyone else would want to spend on the process. OTOH the administrator may be the only one that walks away with any significant $.
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DrGrnTum
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by DrGrnTum »

JoeRetire wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 4:41 pm
DrGrnTum wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 2:38 pm My cousin just has the keys nothing else.

In this respect my cousin is just letting the house go.
If you are actually saying "my cousin is doing nothing", then I now understand what you meant by "letting the house go". I've never heard that phrase used with that context.

My assumption was that your cousin would sell it. Apparently, that wasn't what you meant.

Either way, talk with an estate attorney. They will explain the role of a representative/administrator in your locale. Then you can decide if it's something you want to take on personally, or have the estate pay for someone outside the family.
Thanks for the clarification.
There has been a lot of good input on this subject.
I especially like the analogy of family and the mafia that was called out on another post.
For now, my project is to gather as much information on the process so I can make an informed decision.
This is what I do before I commit to anything.
muddlehead
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by muddlehead »

Ragnoth wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 4:17 am
DrGrnTum wrote: Sat Aug 22, 2020 10:31 pm
LilyFleur wrote: Sat Aug 22, 2020 9:57 pm When did you last see your disabled cousin? Had you visited him regularly?
Pre-Covid 19 I drove up to visit him a couple of times.
He was in a assisted living facility.
I went to see him when he was first admitted.
When Covid-19 turned into an epidemic, visitors were not allowed.
He died at the facility.
To recap, your relative died intestate (without a will). The California laws on this are here, but the short version is that if he doesn't have parents, siblings, nephews, or aunts living, it will get split among his cousins equally.

You should have a California lawyer walk you through it, but anybody with an interest in the estate should be able to start the probate process and ask to be named executor. If nobody has done this already, I don't think the court would stop you. At that point, your job would be to sell the house, track down any other assets, compensate the lawyer, pay off any liens, pay any outstanding bills, and send out checks to the ~40 cousins for their share of whatever is left over. The big unknown here is if there are some outstanding liens/debts, or if you have to reimburse the government for some of his disability benefits (this is more of an issue when people have supplemental needs trusts set up for them by their parents; but you never know).

I actually don't think this will cause a ton of drama. It doesn't sound like anybody has an emotional attachment to the house, and the most each person could hope for is pretty small (I would be surprised if anybody got more than $5k at the end of the day). It's basically a question of whether you want to spent the time/energy involved in order to pick up a few thousand for you and each of your relatives.
[ quote fixed by admin LadyGeek]

" " it will get split among his cousins equally." '


Are you sure? Seems weird that estranged cousins can show up from another galaxy and stake a claim. Just asking cause I sure as heck am not an expert.
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tadamsmar
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by tadamsmar »

DrGrnTum wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 6:06 pm
JoeRetire wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 4:41 pm
DrGrnTum wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 2:38 pm My cousin just has the keys nothing else.

In this respect my cousin is just letting the house go.
If you are actually saying "my cousin is doing nothing", then I now understand what you meant by "letting the house go". I've never heard that phrase used with that context.

My assumption was that your cousin would sell it. Apparently, that wasn't what you meant.

Either way, talk with an estate attorney. They will explain the role of a representative/administrator in your locale. Then you can decide if it's something you want to take on personally, or have the estate pay for someone outside the family.
Thanks for the clarification.
There has been a lot of good input on this subject.
I especially like the analogy of family and the mafia that was called out on another post.
For now, my project is to gather as much information on the process so I can make an informed decision.
This is what I do before I commit to anything.
Just want to comment on your plan to gather information before you "commit to anything".

I am pretty sure you can become the administrator and then resign at any time. If I were you, I might "commit" and then gather information if there were going to be any legal, travel or other expenses in the information gathering. It might be easier to gather information as administrator. You can probably get yourself signed up as administrator remotely using notaries so that your expenses would be charged to the estate. You might have to file a preliminary inventory but it would not need to be complete. But this is based my understanding of the regulations in my state NC.

Also, it is probably better to have an competent administrator ASAP even if the administrator does not complete the job. Someone needs to check on the status of the home insurance now that the house is unoccupied, the insurance may be void for an unoccupied house. Is someone collecting the deceased's mail? What is the status of the utilities for the house?

When I was an executor, the mail sometimes provided information and indicated tasks that I needed to take care of. I diverted the mail to my home address.
Last edited by tadamsmar on Mon Aug 24, 2020 6:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
johnubc
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by johnubc »

Your relationship to the deceased is important - there are all kinds of cousins - brother from another mother, sister from a different mister, etc. Your exact relationship to the person is important and may (varies by state) give you standing to pursue the disposition of the estate. The deceased is intestate and normally the Public Administrator will see to the distribution.
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by Pete3 »

johnubc wrote: Mon Aug 24, 2020 6:37 am Your relationship to the deceased is important - there are all kinds of cousins - brother from another mother, sister from a different mister, etc. Your exact relationship to the person is important and may (varies by state) give you standing to pursue the disposition of the estate. The deceased is intestate and normally the Public Administrator will see to the distribution.
Already posted:

"His dad and my mom were brother and sister.
We are part of the first 20 of his cousins.
The other 20 are from his mother's side.
His sister never married and did not have any kids.
He was pretty advanced in age and I don't think I'll find uncles, aunts or grandparents."
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JoeRetire
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by JoeRetire »

muddlehead wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 6:46 pm" " it will get split among his cousins equally." '


Are you sure? Seems weird that estranged cousins can show up from another galaxy and stake a claim. Just asking cause I sure as heck am not an expert.
Without a will, "estranged" means nothing.
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by Dottie57 »

dodecahedron wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 2:53 pm
tadamsmar wrote: Sun Aug 23, 2020 2:40 pm If I were you and I thought I was an heir and that I might inherit something, I would do one of the following:

1. Volunteer to be the executor.
2. Recruit someone to be the executor, if thought that was best.
3. Ask the presiding probate court to get on with it and choose an executor.

If you have analysis paralysis, then just do #3. I would contact the clerk of court and ask them to proceed with probate. I am pretty sure that an heir can petition the court to proceed with probate.
A terminology confusion is starting to really bother me.

If there is no valid will, as appears to be the case here, there will be no "executor."

An executor is a person officially appointed to be responsible for executing a will. That may or may not be the person designated as executor in the decedent's will, for a variety of reasons. The designated executor in the will may be unable or unwilling to perform due to death, disability, logistical issues, etc. If there is a valid will but the executor(s) named in the will is/are unable or unwilling to perform the duties of an executor, the court will appoint an executor to execute the will.

By contrast, if and when the court becomes satisfied that no valid will exists, they will declare that the deceased died intestate and appoint an *administrator* of the estate not an executor. There is a technical difference between those two terms.
Thanks for the info. I did not understand the differences.
Luckywon
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by Luckywon »

tadamsmar wrote: Mon Aug 24, 2020 6:23 am


Just want to comment on your plan to gather information before you "commit to anything".

I am pretty sure you can become the administrator and then resign at any time. If I were you, I might "commit" and then gather information if there were going to be any legal, travel or other expenses in the information gathering. It might be easier to gather information as administrator. You can probably get yourself signed up as administrator remotely using notaries so that your expenses would be charged to the estate. You might have to file a preliminary inventory but it would not need to be complete. But this is based my understanding of the regulations in my state NC.

I would not enter this with the idea of testing the waters. Resigning as administrator in California requires a court hearing where a judge will have discretion to discharge you or not. As I mentioned in a previous post, in my county last year, probate court hearings were being scheduled 11 months out, so it would not be a timely process either.

This is my third post in this thread and I'm probably getting repetitive so I promise this will be my last. If you choose to become administrator, do not expect the parties you deal with to be responsive, grateful, rational or even to follow the law. Do expect that you will encounter individuals or institutions who act with malice. Do not think that the probate court's mission is to serve you or facilitate the process in any way. You will marvel at the bureaucracy and economics of the process. Your patience, good will and even sanity will be tested. Good luck with whatever you decide.
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DrGrnTum
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by DrGrnTum »

Luckywon wrote: Mon Aug 24, 2020 1:27 pm
tadamsmar wrote: Mon Aug 24, 2020 6:23 am


Just want to comment on your plan to gather information before you "commit to anything".

I am pretty sure you can become the administrator and then resign at any time. If I were you, I might "commit" and then gather information if there were going to be any legal, travel or other expenses in the information gathering. It might be easier to gather information as administrator. You can probably get yourself signed up as administrator remotely using notaries so that your expenses would be charged to the estate. You might have to file a preliminary inventory but it would not need to be complete. But this is based my understanding of the regulations in my state NC.

I would not enter this with the idea of testing the waters. Resigning as administrator in California requires a court hearing where a judge will have discretion to discharge you or not. As I mentioned in a previous post, in my county last year, probate court hearings were being scheduled 11 months out, so it would not be a timely process either.

This is my third post in this thread and I'm probably getting repetitive so I promise this will be my last. If you choose to become administrator, do not expect the parties you deal with to be responsive, grateful, rational or even to follow the law. Do expect that you will encounter individuals or institutions who act with malice. Do not think that the probate court's mission is to serve you or facilitate the process in any way for you. Your patience, good will and even sanity will be tested. Good luck with whatever you decide.
Thanks for you input. Your posts seems to provided some of the most penetrate pertinent information.
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tadamsmar
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by tadamsmar »

Luckywon wrote: Mon Aug 24, 2020 1:27 pm
tadamsmar wrote: Mon Aug 24, 2020 6:23 am


Just want to comment on your plan to gather information before you "commit to anything".

I am pretty sure you can become the administrator and then resign at any time. If I were you, I might "commit" and then gather information if there were going to be any legal, travel or other expenses in the information gathering. It might be easier to gather information as administrator. You can probably get yourself signed up as administrator remotely using notaries so that your expenses would be charged to the estate. You might have to file a preliminary inventory but it would not need to be complete. But this is based my understanding of the regulations in my state NC.

I would not enter this with the idea of testing the waters. Resigning as administrator in California requires a court hearing where a judge will have discretion to discharge you or not. As I mentioned in a previous post, in my county last year, probate court hearings were being scheduled 11 months out, so it would not be a timely process either.

This is my third post in this thread and I'm probably getting repetitive so I promise this will be my last. If you choose to become administrator, do not expect the parties you deal with to be responsive, grateful, rational or even to follow the law. Do expect that you will encounter individuals or institutions who act with malice. Do not think that the probate court's mission is to serve you or facilitate the process in any way. You will marvel at the bureaucracy and economics of the process. Your patience, good will and even sanity will be tested. Good luck with whatever you decide.
Thanks, I looked up the process in NC and the court might not let an administrator resign if it is not in the best interest of the estate. The court might recommend that the administrator employ a probate counsel to make the process easier.
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LilyFleur
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by LilyFleur »

California courts are extremely slow right now.
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by valleyrock »

I'd ask friends and contacts for the names of a few experienced estate attorneys nearby, then call them, explain what's up and ask about what they'd do to help. When they start talking about a retainer, fees, an initial free meeting, etc., ask them if they are willing to be hired for, say 2 or three hours, at their hourly rate, to discuss the process. Ask them broad questions at first (what does one do here, etc.), and take notes (people are impressed when you take notes). As you learn, more questions will come up and you also can get more specific. If it is an established attorney who is secure in their position, they shouldn't begrudge someone wanting to learn. They might get a client, they might not. But they'll come away with some cash, which most attorneys don't mind.

I hired a lawyer for $1,000 for three hours when I was taken to civil court, and it was very helpful. His usual terms were that he would get a $10,000 retainer and he would make all the decisions until the money runs out, and then I'd have to replenish it. He'd also keep any left over money because stuff always comes up later, he said. With the knowledge I gleaned, I was able to go with a different sort of attorney from my neighborhood who charged an hourly rate with no retainer, and who was willing to work in a collaborative way with me. We both learned a lot and became friends.
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by Bobby206 »

I have fairly significant experience with this stuff so will agree with much of the above.

Definitely agree with above that the California courts are slow right now. After 3 months of closures, in most counties, they are way behind. Some courts literally didn't even process mail/filings during those 3 months. Some counties have limited staffing and thus are falling further behind. Some counties also are very slow to file documents which can cause additional problems as you have to file a week to two weeks before the court date and that isn't always possible. In short, what used to be a 7-8 month process is now probably 10-12+ months depending on what county. I know of one county in CA that is filing final petitions 6-11 months out so probate there is now a 2 year+ process.

Having said that, the Personal Representative (term that includes both executor and administrator) can sell the house once named PR by the court which is typically between 6 weeks and 3 months after you file. That is, most initial court dates these days are in that time frame. The California probate code actually says the court "must" give a court date within 28 days but even before Covid few courts complied with the law even if it was requested. You never have to appear in Court as your attorney would handle all appearances.

Anybody on earth can file to be the administrator and the court will approve them as long as nobody objects. The last person listed in the order of priority, in the California probate code, is "any other person." So anybody can be the administrator. It's best to try to get as many cousins on board as fighting to handle a thankless job is never smart. A competing petition situation just creates unnecessary attorney fees and anxiety. Once the key players agree then getting appointed PR is no big deal.

If all next of kin agree to sign a bond waiver that saves the estate a few bucks. A surety bond is sort of like insurance in case the PR runs off with the money. It's actually not very good insurance but that's a story for a different day. Point is, if everybody is friendly and trusts the PR I would try to get bond waivers signed and there is now a judicial council form for that. A bond or bond waiver is required to get full IAEA authority. You want full authority so you can sell house without having to go back to court for confirmation. Going back to court for confirmation of sale sets up a court auction which (see above re delays in getting court dates) adds months to the process. Most potential home buyers do not want to wait months to have a court auction where they could get outbid. With full IAEA authority your attorney sends out a notice of proposed action to all interested parties which allows them to object to the sale if objection is done in a timely process.

Once appointed PR all the horror stories people tell rarely come to fruition. I have very likely been involved with more of these than anybody on this message board, save 1 or 2 people, and it usually works out fine. The tough moments are generally right after death but usually people settle down and things go smoothly. However, it is usually a thankless job.

You get appointed, you sell the house, you put the money into an estate account (or multiple if more than $250k as I never trust the FDIC rules), you gather other assets, you determine if there are known or possible creditors/liabilities to put on notice, you file tax returns (1040/1041), you file final petition and then distribute the money as the court tells you. It's really pretty simple as long as you have a good probate attorney guiding you through the process.

Some people use the Nolo book on California probate, which I have heard is good, and do the probate themselves. The biggest downside is when you mess stuff up in a California probate you get delayed. A typical delay is 4-8 weeks. So mess up enough times and, before you know it, probate has taken 2 years. There are state forms for almost every step of the probate process though there are local rules in each county as well as unwritten local rules in each county (procedures). Plus there are a few situations, I have seen, where people cost themselves more money by trying to do it themselves. However, it's probably like most anything in life. DIYers rarely realize when they did cost themselves money and feel they came out ahead.

Here's a probate funny for you. San Francisco probate court is a mandatory E-file court as many probate courts are in California. However, in SF you have to mail (or deliver) a hard copy of all the filed documents to the examiner's office so they can review everything and advise the Judge as to if it's been done right. That is, after you E-file them, you get copies with a filed stamp, and then courier/mail/Fedex a copy of all of it back to the courthouse. Yes, this is not an exaggeration. I promise you this is true! Gotta love our government at work! This is the most ridiculous local rule/procedure that I am aware of in California.

As PR you are entitled to compensation that is the same as the ordinary attorney fee. There is a fee schedule in the California probate code. Here are some samples:

$200k gross estate = $7k fee
$500k gross estate = $13k fee
$1m estate = $23k fee
+1% above that

That is taxable income to the PR.

There is CA probate 101 for you.

Good luck!
valleyrock
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by valleyrock »

Looks to me like CA Probate 101 is the bees knees, and no need to pay an attorney, unless you can find one who'll work by the hour to advise along the way, one who's familiar with the steps and unwritten rules procedures in the jurisdiction you're in. But it's likely the various clerks can answer questions along they way.
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by NotWhoYouThink »

Bobby206 wrote: Tue Aug 25, 2020 4:11 pm I have fairly significant experience with this stuff so will agree with much of the above.


If all next of kin agree to sign a bond waiver that saves the estate a few bucks. A surety bond is sort of like insurance in case the PR runs off with the money. It's actually not very good insurance but that's a story for a different day. Point is, if everybody is friendly and trusts the PR I would try to get bond waivers signed and there is now a judicial council form for that. A bond or bond waiver is required to get full IAEA authority. You want full authority so you can sell house without having to go back to court for confirmation. Going back to court for confirmation of sale sets up a court auction which (see above re delays in getting court dates) adds months to the process. Most potential home buyers do not want to wait months to have a court auction where they could get outbid. With full IAEA authority your attorney sends out a notice of proposed action to all interested parties which allows them to object to the sale if objection is done in a timely process.


There is CA probate 101 for you.

Good luck!
This looks like a tremendously helpful summary, kind of you to post it

Do you have any experience getting a bond instead of a waiver? Because I can't see getting 40 cousins signing anything at all.
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by bsteiner »

NotWhoYouThink wrote: Tue Aug 25, 2020 5:37 pm ...
Do you have any experience getting a bond instead of a waiver? ..l.
Yes. There are several bonding companies. There are some insurance agencies that specialize in surety bonds, and will know which bonding company is best (most likely to issue the bond at the lowest cost) for a given case. A law firm with a good trusts and estates group should have a relationship with such a broker.

Alternatively, any property and casualty broker can place it, assuming you have good credit.
NotWhoYouThink
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by NotWhoYouThink »

bsteiner wrote: Tue Aug 25, 2020 6:21 pm
NotWhoYouThink wrote: Tue Aug 25, 2020 5:37 pm ...
Do you have any experience getting a bond instead of a waiver? ..l.
Yes. There are several bonding companies. There are some insurance agencies that specialize in surety bonds, and will know which bonding company is best (most likely to issue the bond at the lowest cost) for a given case. A law firm with a good trusts and estates group should have a relationship with such a broker.

Alternatively, any property and casualty broker can place it, assuming you have good credit.
So if you are considering stepping in to clean up this mess, and not sure if the sale of the house will even cover debts to the state for Medicaid services, how would you pay for the bond, and how much would it be?

I'm enough of a curious busybody to do a lot of free work for the chance to learn some things, but not sure how much I would pay out of pocket for the experience. Probably nothing in this case. Unless the cost of the bond was ahead of Medicaid and beneficiaries in the payment priority after the house sale.
Bobby206
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by Bobby206 »

NotWhoYouThink wrote: Tue Aug 25, 2020 5:37 pm
Bobby206 wrote: Tue Aug 25, 2020 4:11 pm I have fairly significant experience with this stuff so will agree with much of the above.


If all next of kin agree to sign a bond waiver that saves the estate a few bucks. A surety bond is sort of like insurance in case the PR runs off with the money. It's actually not very good insurance but that's a story for a different day. Point is, if everybody is friendly and trusts the PR I would try to get bond waivers signed and there is now a judicial council form for that. A bond or bond waiver is required to get full IAEA authority. You want full authority so you can sell house without having to go back to court for confirmation. Going back to court for confirmation of sale sets up a court auction which (see above re delays in getting court dates) adds months to the process. Most potential home buyers do not want to wait months to have a court auction where they could get outbid. With full IAEA authority your attorney sends out a notice of proposed action to all interested parties which allows them to object to the sale if objection is done in a timely process.


There is CA probate 101 for you.

Good luck!
This looks like a tremendously helpful summary, kind of you to post it

Do you have any experience getting a bond instead of a waiver? Because I can't see getting 40 cousins signing anything at all.
Bonds are easy. As long as the PR has decent credit and owns real estate. It's just a simple app.
MrsBDG
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by MrsBDG »

I am aware of an extended family member who had a distant relative die, intestate, in CA. The deceased was a hoarder and they just let the county administrator handle it as no one lived in that county. I think it was a real relief not to figure it all out from afar.
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DrGrnTum
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by DrGrnTum »

by Bobby206 » Tue Aug 25, 2020 4:11 pm

I have fairly significant experience with this stuff so will agree with much of the above.

Definitely agree with above that the California courts are slow right now. After 3 months of closures, in most counties, they are way behind. Some courts literally didn't even process mail/filings during those 3 months. Some counties have limited staffing and thus are falling further behind. Some counties also are very slow to file documents which can cause additional problems as you have to file a week to two weeks before the court date and that isn't always possible. In short, what used to be a 7-8 month process is now probably 10-12+ months depending on what county. I know of one county in CA that is filing final petitions 6-11 months out so probate there is now a 2 year+ process.

Having said that, the Personal Representative (term that includes both executor and administrator) can sell the house once named PR by the court which is typically between 6 weeks and 3 months after you file. That is, most initial court dates these days are in that time frame. The California probate code actually says the court "must" give a court date within 28 days but even before Covid few courts complied with the law even if it was requested. You never have to appear in Court as your attorney would handle all appearances.

Anybody on earth can file to be the administrator and the court will approve them as long as nobody objects. The last person listed in the order of priority, in the California probate code, is "any other person." So anybody can be the administrator. It's best to try to get as many cousins on board as fighting to handle a thankless job is never smart. A competing petition situation just creates unnecessary attorney fees and anxiety. Once the key players agree then getting appointed PR is no big deal.
It has been a while since my cousin died. Also, there are a number of people that can file to be named as administrator. It strikes me that the first think I should do is to check to see if anyone has already filed with the court. Can someone direct me to the agency I should contact to find this information?
I could begin the process of contacting all individuals involved, but that could take some time. Also, there is a chance that someone may have applied and is trying to keep this a secret. This brings up another question. How does the court go about finding out who is heirs to the estate?

Again, thank you everyone. This has become one big learning experience.
bsteiner
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by bsteiner »

DrGrnTum wrote: Wed Aug 26, 2020 9:00 am ... there are a number of people that can file to be named as administrator. It strikes me that the first think I should do is to check to see if anyone has already filed with the court. Can someone direct me to the agency I should contact to find this information?
I could begin the process of contacting all individuals involved, but that could take some time. Also, there is a chance that someone may have applied and is trying to keep this a secret. This brings up another question. How does the court go about finding out who is heirs to the estate?
...
You might check to see if there's any information on the court's website. If not, you could go to the courthouse (if it's open).

Since there's no Will, ascertaining the heirs is crucial since they're the people who are entitled to share in the estate. The degree of proof may vary from state to state. I don't know what California requires, but we had an intestate estate in New York where the closest relatives were cousins. We had to prove (with birth, death and marriage certificates, census records, and witnesses who weren't cousins) that (i) there was no one closer than a cousin, (ii) that the people we said were the cousins were in fact cousins, and (iii) that the people we said were the cousins were all of the cousins. Fortunately we began with one cousin on each side who knew the family tree on that side. My guess is that most other states are less demanding.
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tadamsmar
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by tadamsmar »

DrGrnTum wrote: Wed Aug 26, 2020 9:00 am
by Bobby206 » Tue Aug 25, 2020 4:11 pm

I have fairly significant experience with this stuff so will agree with much of the above.

Definitely agree with above that the California courts are slow right now. After 3 months of closures, in most counties, they are way behind. Some courts literally didn't even process mail/filings during those 3 months. Some counties have limited staffing and thus are falling further behind. Some counties also are very slow to file documents which can cause additional problems as you have to file a week to two weeks before the court date and that isn't always possible. In short, what used to be a 7-8 month process is now probably 10-12+ months depending on what county. I know of one county in CA that is filing final petitions 6-11 months out so probate there is now a 2 year+ process.

Having said that, the Personal Representative (term that includes both executor and administrator) can sell the house once named PR by the court which is typically between 6 weeks and 3 months after you file. That is, most initial court dates these days are in that time frame. The California probate code actually says the court "must" give a court date within 28 days but even before Covid few courts complied with the law even if it was requested. You never have to appear in Court as your attorney would handle all appearances.

Anybody on earth can file to be the administrator and the court will approve them as long as nobody objects. The last person listed in the order of priority, in the California probate code, is "any other person." So anybody can be the administrator. It's best to try to get as many cousins on board as fighting to handle a thankless job is never smart. A competing petition situation just creates unnecessary attorney fees and anxiety. Once the key players agree then getting appointed PR is no big deal.
It has been a while since my cousin died. Also, there are a number of people that can file to be named as administrator. It strikes me that the first think I should do is to check to see if anyone has already filed with the court. Can someone direct me to the agency I should contact to find this information?
I could begin the process of contacting all individuals involved, but that could take some time. Also, there is a chance that someone may have applied and is trying to keep this a secret. This brings up another question. How does the court go about finding out who is heirs to the estate?

Again, thank you everyone. This has become one big learning experience.
In my state, I was able to settle an estate via the clerk of court in my county even though the property was in another county.

I would try the clerk of court. They will probably be able to help or tell you where to get help.

https://www.courts.ca.gov/find-my-court ... wse_courts

In my state, the administrator cannot be a secret from the heirs. But, from my experience, heirs have some mental block about getting information from the clerk of court. Most just want to waste time speculating about what the administrator/executor is doing and the status of their inheritance rather than getting copies of the records from the clerk of court that must be filed by the administrator. So, in a sense, everything can be a secret from a feckless heir.
JGoneRiding
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by JGoneRiding »

I am currently an executor on a state with a will and only 6 heirs. Then thanks to covid probate got extended then the youngest most obnoxious but chronically Ill beneficiary DIED then we had to wait again to get his estate set up to receive his share of funds, which was most of his estate! That caused enough if a delay that the estate earned interest over the federal limit so now I have to wait until next Feb to close everything.

I would 100% rec you contact the county admin and help then out by getting all cousins registered and just sit back and wait for whatever little check is left
Bobby206
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by Bobby206 »

DrGrnTum wrote: Wed Aug 26, 2020 9:00 am
by Bobby206 » Tue Aug 25, 2020 4:11 pm

I have fairly significant experience with this stuff so will agree with much of the above.

Definitely agree with above that the California courts are slow right now. After 3 months of closures, in most counties, they are way behind. Some courts literally didn't even process mail/filings during those 3 months. Some counties have limited staffing and thus are falling further behind. Some counties also are very slow to file documents which can cause additional problems as you have to file a week to two weeks before the court date and that isn't always possible. In short, what used to be a 7-8 month process is now probably 10-12+ months depending on what county. I know of one county in CA that is filing final petitions 6-11 months out so probate there is now a 2 year+ process.

Having said that, the Personal Representative (term that includes both executor and administrator) can sell the house once named PR by the court which is typically between 6 weeks and 3 months after you file. That is, most initial court dates these days are in that time frame. The California probate code actually says the court "must" give a court date within 28 days but even before Covid few courts complied with the law even if it was requested. You never have to appear in Court as your attorney would handle all appearances.

Anybody on earth can file to be the administrator and the court will approve them as long as nobody objects. The last person listed in the order of priority, in the California probate code, is "any other person." So anybody can be the administrator. It's best to try to get as many cousins on board as fighting to handle a thankless job is never smart. A competing petition situation just creates unnecessary attorney fees and anxiety. Once the key players agree then getting appointed PR is no big deal.
It has been a while since my cousin died. Also, there are a number of people that can file to be named as administrator. It strikes me that the first think I should do is to check to see if anyone has already filed with the court. Can someone direct me to the agency I should contact to find this information?
I could begin the process of contacting all individuals involved, but that could take some time. Also, there is a chance that someone may have applied and is trying to keep this a secret. This brings up another question. How does the court go about finding out who is heirs to the estate?

Again, thank you everyone. This has become one big learning experience.
Just call the probate court. Some California courts have online name searches. You have to establish an account and pay $1 per search typically. Or call the court and most will tell you over the phone.

Unfortunately it's easy to commit fraud (or make a mistake) and people are not notified of probate. The court, except in very rare situations, puts you on notice. Also, even then the court can only put on notice the people/addresses they have. The court does not search for the right family tree. Occasionally heir finders see probates filed with lots of holes in the family tree and they will search for people. They of course try to get 20-30% of each heir's share.
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DrGrnTum
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by DrGrnTum »

Here is an update.
On doing some investigation, we found out that a cousin from the other side has started the process to legally address this issue.

We would just be delaying the process if we decided to become involved.
We will see how this plays out.
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celia
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by celia »

DrGrnTum wrote: Tue Sep 01, 2020 9:20 am Here is an update.
On doing some investigation, we found out that a cousin from the other side has started the process to legally address this issue.

We would just be delaying the process if we decided to become involved.
We will see how this plays out.
Thanks for the update.

Did you ever find out the status of the deed? Was the house in the deceased's name? Any liens against the deed?

This would be the major criteria affecting my decision to administer this estate (ie, if the estate had any assets) along with Medicaid pay-back rules.
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DrGrnTum
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by DrGrnTum »

celia wrote: Wed Sep 02, 2020 3:38 pm
DrGrnTum wrote: Tue Sep 01, 2020 9:20 am Here is an update.
On doing some investigation, we found out that a cousin from the other side has started the process to legally address this issue.

We would just be delaying the process if we decided to become involved.
We will see how this plays out.
Thanks for the update.

Did you ever find out the status of the deed? Was the house in the deceased's name? Any liens against the deed?

This would be the major criteria affecting my decision to administer this estate (ie, if the estate had any assets) along with Medicaid pay-back rules.
I pretty much drop my involvement with this issue once I found that someone else was working on this.
I did not look into it any further
Thanks to all that provided me with input.
bayview
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by bayview »

DrGrnTum wrote: Thu Sep 03, 2020 10:34 am I pretty much drop my involvement with this issue once I found that someone else was working on this.
I did not look into it any further
Thanks to all that provided me with input.
This seems very wise.

Best of luck to you and all the cousins.
The continuous execution of a sound strategy gives you the benefit of the strategy. That's what it's all about. --Rick Ferri
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DrGrnTum
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by DrGrnTum »

Another update.
My cousin met with the cousins from the other side.
Somebody from that side is taking the lead on this.

My cousin was told that they had taken a vote and they had decided to exclude our side of the family.

Let the games begin....
NotWhoYouThink
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by NotWhoYouThink »

Oh, my!

Just had to change my post from "thanks for the update" to "I'll spring for the popcorn."
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Raymond
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Re: Cousin died He did not leave a will

Post by Raymond »

DrGrnTum wrote: Fri Sep 04, 2020 11:30 am Another update.
My cousin met with the cousins from the other side.
Somebody from that side is taking the lead on this.

My cousin was told that they had taken a vote and they had decided to exclude our side of the family.

Let the games begin....
I hope you're not thinking of diving into this goat rope of a situation, unless your share of the estate (if there was any to begin with) is life-changing money, however you would calculate that.

"But, it's the principle of the thing!", one might say. And so?

I would leave the other side of the family to their fun and games - the probability that the cousins on that side will soon be going at each other with fangs out and hair on fire approaches 100% :twisted:

So sit back, eat your popcorn, and be amused.
"Ritter, Tod und Teufel"
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