A woman came into our Walnut Creek office seeking help with her parents’ estate. Like many of the clients who come through our doors, she needed information. She’d never dealt with an estate before and was still in shock over her mother’s sudden death. Her mother had been healthy and active but had collapsed during her morning exercise class. They’d called 911 and rushed her to the hospital, but she’d had a ruptured aneurism. Despite heroic efforts by the EMTs and the emergency room doctors, her mother died in the hospital.
No Living Trust, but there might be a Will . . .
Our client had a brother, but she would be managing the estate. They knew that their mother and father, who had died the previous winter, had never created a Living Trust, despite their frequent urging. They did think, however, that their parents had at one time created a Will.
Brook encouraged her client to try and find the Will, as it would detail how her parents’ assets would be distributed. The client returned a week later with the Will—she had carefully gone through her mother’s papers and found it locked in the back of a desk with other important documents, including the title to her car, tax statements from the last few years and the deed to a home in Nevada.
The Will detailed that the assets would be evenly divided between the son and daughter, our client. There were a life insurance policy and some stocks that had significantly appreciated over the years. The Will also identified how some of the family’s belongings–a few quality antiques, paintings and jewelry, would be allocated between their son and daughter.
No real property, assets less than $150,000: They avoided Probate—in California
Since they had owned no real property in California, their assets totaled less than $150,000, they did not have to ask the court to Probate any California assets. Yet, because California is her state of residence, our client will have to file for Probate in California first in order to have the authority to initiate Probate in Nevada.
A separate Probate in Nevada
Brook initiated the Probate process, preparing court documents stating that her client would be the Executor of her mother’s estate. These documents will be used at the hearing that the Probate clerk schedules; it is at this hearing that the Probate judge signs off on this document, legally naming her the Executor. She will then take this certified document to a Nevada attorney to initiate a Probate case in that state. The full Probate process will take place in Nevada.
A cautionary tale . . .
If our client’s parents had created a Living Trust, settling her parents’ estate would have been a simple matter of distributing their assets according to the details of the Trust. The estate has now gotten significantly more complicated—and expensive.
Are you still putting off creating your Living Trust? We prepare the legal documents and notarize them–most of our clients tell us they’re surprised at just how easy it was! Schedule an appointment at one of our three Bay Area offices today today.