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Thread: Probate help

  1. #1
    pattimelt is offline Member
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    Probate help

    What is the name of your state? CA

    Father in law passed away in Dec 06. In his will, he stated that executor would be daughter's partner. Estate went into probate in March 07. Aside from the bills that were paid right after the funeral, nothing has been done to complete probate.


    Is there a time limit for how long probate can take??

    Can we contest any request for pay for her, since nothing has been done??

    Same situation, another problem:
    Father in law had a Putnam Investments account that withdrew $166 a month from his checking account that went into a fund that would pay for his funeral. All the kids KNEW that the fund was to pay for his funeral. When dad passed, the beneficiary claimed that money (now worth over $25K) and took that for herself, and has now filed a claim against the estate for the payment of his funeral expenses. Can we contest??
  2. #2
    tecate is offline Member
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    Are you a beneficiary under the will?

    FYI, look at Probate Code Section 12200 and following. What are you expecting to have happened that hasn't? (In other words, what do you mean by "nothing.")

    I assume by "beneficiary" you mean a pay on death or totten trust beneficiary. If so the account is not part of the probate estate. But since the probate estate is responsible for the funeral expenses, I can understand why the beneficiary filed a creditors claim.
  3. #3
    pattimelt is offline Member
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    I am listed in the will.

    The house was left to husband and myself. Executor has done NOTHING. And when I say nothing, I mean absolutely NOTHING. No bills have been paid, no inventory of household items that was SUPPOSED to be done, nothing. House needs MAJOR repairs, but nothing can be done because house has not been transferred into our names. We were living with dad when he passed(he had a stroke, and I was primary caregiver), and have continued to live here since. Plumbing is in desparate need of repair, we have leaks in the roof, etc--but until appraisal of house is complete and transfer is complete, we cannot do any repairs. Tax bill was due in November, per attorney, we were told to send bill to executor, tax bill was NOT paid, and we continued to get notices for delinquent taxes. I finally said to husband that I was NOT going to lose house due to a $600 tax bill and paid them. Needless to say, I have kept copies of bill and payments. Appliances have since died (they were listed in will to come to me directly) and have since been replaced by us.

    The Putnam account WAS paid out to beneficiary--and it was SUPPOSED to be used to pay for the funeral expenses. Problem being beneficiary kept all the money from the Putnam account and has now filed claim against estate for funeral expenses that we all feel was paid for by those monies. I don't know what you mean when you say you understand why she filed a creditor's claim. She got paid for the funeral expenses from this account. And more money on top of it. So how can she file to get that money back AGAIN???


    I just read that probate code that you gave me. How do I know if a federal estate tax return is needed? The estate in total was not worth $500K, and that includes the house and all items that were owned by him.

    How can I file the petition for account that will require the executor to let us know what is taking so long??

    Probate was opened March 15, 2007.
    Last edited by pattimelt; 06-03-2008 at 06:16 PM.
  4. #4
    anteater is offline Senior Member
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    The Putnam account WAS paid out to beneficiary--and it was SUPPOSED to be used to pay for the funeral expenses. Problem being beneficiary kept all the money from the Putnam account and has now filed claim against estate for funeral expenses that we all feel was paid for by those monies. I don't know what you mean when you say you understand why she filed a creditor's claim. She got paid for the funeral expenses from this account. And more money on top of it. So how can she file to get that money back AGAIN???
    As tecate said, if this account had a beneficiary designation, then the beneficiary became the owner when FIL passed away, outside of probate. What those funds were "supposed" to be used for or what "all the kids knew" is not relevant. The funds became her's to use as she desired.

    The probate estate is responsible for the funeral expenses. If the beneficiary paid the funeral expenses, then she has a right to make a claim against the probate estate for reimbursement.

    Your best bet is to reatin a probate attorney to assist you. There is too much at stake to try to make this a do-it-yourself project.
  5. #5
    tecate is offline Member
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    What has the executor told you? Is there a reason for the delay? Have you offered to succeed her? While the probate code uses many different terms of art, if you file a petition, in effect you will be suing to remove the executor if he or she doesn't get off the dime. The court will want to know about the executor's actions and your attempts to move the administration along.

    While it is possible that the 18 month period applies, assume for now that the 12 month period applies, hire an attorney, and file a 12202 petition, for starters.
  6. #6
    pattimelt is offline Member
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    Thanks to both of you.

    Now that I have a clue as to what to do, I can contact a lawyer. I pay for group legal thru a deduction at work, so I won't stress about costs.

    Tecate-- the executor has told us NOTHING. The only person that has even told us anything about the probate has been the lawyer that drew up the will-- he's a family friend and we have known his family for over 50 years.

    I just didn't want to go to a lawyer without any type of clue as to what to do or what to ask for. It is just taking so much time, when there wasn't much that needed to be done--no outstanding bills, etc., just funeral costs, since all dad had was the house and a car and the stuff in the house-no other assets or accounts.
  7. #7
    anteater is offline Senior Member
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    One further suggestion. If you do not already have copies, go to the probate court and get copies of every document in the file. It will save time when you consult with an attorney.
  8. #8
    Dandy Don is offline Senior Member
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    Please describe what assets are in the estate that are NOT the Putnam account and the value of those assets. Does the will instruct that the home go to certain beneficiaries or is the mortgage yet unpaid and outstanding or is the home paid for in full? And the good news is that YOU may be able to file a claim to get reimbursement for the delinquent taxes.
    Last edited by Dandy Don; 06-04-2008 at 01:10 PM.
  9. #9
    pattimelt is offline Member
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    Assets

    Quote Originally Posted by Dandy Don View Post
    Please describe what assets are in the estate that are NOT the Putnam account and the value of those assets. Does the will instruct that the home go to certain beneficiaries or is the mortgage yet unpaid and outstanding or is the home paid for in full? And the good news is that YOU may be able to file a claim to get reimbursement for the delinquent taxes.

    The whole of the estate consists of the home, which is completely paid off-worth in today's market approx $200K(value according to tax bill is under $100K, land and house); tools and misc stuff in the garage approx worth $5K, household furniture and appliances approx worth $3K. And dad's car, approx worth $5K. That's it. The will states that the house itself goes to husband and I. Tools and garage stuff get split between husband and nephew. Furniture to go to one sister, everything in kitchen to me.
  10. #10
    tecate is offline Member
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    Is there any cash in the probate estate? Or did it all pass outside? Your attorney can elaborate on what anteater and I were talking about above.

    This might be a "landlocked" estate, and if so, it may be that the executor does not have a plan on how to proceed. (Or perhaps the executor did not want to ask all of you for $$$ and did not like the alternatives, which include selling assets.) This would also explain why "nothing" has been done.

    Subject to the advice your attorney gives you, it may turn out that a deal among the specific beneficiaries on how to loan cash to the estate to pay the bills and the fees is the way to go. In effect, you and they will need to purchase what they get by paying off the executor, the attorney, the administration expenses (such as the probate referee) and the creditors.

    I realize that this is not an excuse for the executor doing nothing, just a possible explanation why.
  11. #11
    pattimelt is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by tecate View Post
    Is there any cash in the probate estate? Or did it all pass outside? Your attorney can elaborate on what anteater and I were talking about above.

    This might be a "landlocked" estate, and if so, it may be that the executor does not have a plan on how to proceed. (Or perhaps the executor did not want to ask all of you for $$$ and did not like the alternatives, which include selling assets.) This would also explain why "nothing" has been done.

    Subject to the advice your attorney gives you, it may turn out that a deal among the specific beneficiaries on how to loan cash to the estate to pay the bills and the fees is the way to go. In effect, you and they will need to purchase what they get by paying off the executor, the attorney, the administration expenses (such as the probate referee) and the creditors.

    I realize that this is not an excuse for the executor doing nothing, just a possible explanation why.
    Thank you!! You just put everything into english for me. In other words, I get it now.

    I believe what you have said here is what is going on. There are 3 kids, and rather than have all the beneficiaries pay(there are teenagers listed in the will), there has to be a way for the adults to cover the costs.

    Is there a way to ensure that EVERYONE pays their share?? I know that this sounds like I'm being petty, but the executor is one sister's "partner" and I don't trust either one of them as far as I can throw them. And the other one is so far in debt that her creditors are calling MY house to contact her.
  12. #12
    tecate is offline Member
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    As far as I know, the beneficiaries can't be forced to advance $$$. You might be in the unenviable position of having to advance everything to close the estate, taking a lien for the 5% share allocated to the remaining assets. And my guess is that your chances of realizing on the lien will be zero.

    But at least you will have the home for a very small amount of $$. Hire an attorney to force the issue. I think it would be prudent to recall the phrase "don't be penny wise and pound foolish."
  13. #13
    pattimelt is offline Member
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    Thanks again for your advice, tecate.

    I actually got a call from the attorney today(the one that's the family friend), and he told me that the executor has everything together to close probate--she actually dropped it off to him today! (timing is everything!)

    I WILL be checking with MY lawyer, though, since some of what he told me didn't make any sense-- that since my husband and I are getting the MAJOR part of the estate, that we have to foot 95% of the probate bills???? And this is BEFORE we pay taxes on the estate??
    He's telling me that it looks like it is around $60K.. does that sound about right?? He is going to scan all the paperwork and email it to husband and I (husband is in Europe until
    3rd week of July, so is not home) for our ok before he files any type of paperwork. Like I said, I will be running it by my lawyer just to be on the safe side. It's not that I don't trust the lawyer, again, it's more of the case of not trusting the executor as far as I can throw her(she's almost 7 foot tall and wide, too!, so she ain't goin' nowhere!) and I'd rather be safe than sorry.

    How can they have a price on the house without doing any type of appraisal?? Would they go off of the property tax stuff??? Example: The property tax appraisal is $50K.. even though even in this market, the house is worth at least $200K..

    Thanks again for your continued help. I feel like such an idiot, but I'm a pretty quick learner..
  14. #14
    anteater is offline Senior Member
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    It's late wehre I am, so some random thoughts:

    1) With the kind of estate value you mention, even with a wide margin of error, there should be no estate taxes.

    2) Either the estate value that you have mentioned is way off or (hopefully) you misunderstood what the attorney was saying about $60K. Are you certain that he did not say $16K? That would make a lot more sense for an esate valued at about $220K.

    3) If there were no liquid assets in the estate to cover expenses, it is reasonable to apportion the expenses among the beneficiaries according to the value of the bequests.

    4) The house should be valued at fair market on the day of your FIL's passing. Tax values often mean little, especially in CA. Yes, they should have had an appraisal done.
  15. #15
    Dandy Don is offline Senior Member
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    Executor may not be especially interested in getting the home probated (although it IS her job) because she doesn't benefit from the home being sold OR she may not know that probate is automatically required simply because real property/real estate is involved.

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