Articles Posted in Probate court proceedings

How Does the Successor Trustee Handle the Bills and Debts of the Deceased Trustor?


Successor Trustee paying trustor debtsIf there is a living trust and all of the deceased person’s assets have been placed into the living trust prior to death, there is no need for a probate court administration. Creditor Rights? For probates, there are specific court-supervised formal steps required to notify creditors and for approval and rejection of creditor’s claims. The situation involving a trust is much less formal and the laws differ somewhat. The person who administers a living trust following the death of the trustors (the persons who created the trust) is known as the successor trustee.



A trust is typically established by a document known as a declaration of trust will which is a document with instructions for how the trust assets are to be handled. The declaration of trust also identifies the trust creators, known as trustors, the beneficiaries who will be receiving money and benefits out of the trust and the trustee. The trustee is the person or institution responsible for administering the trust, writing the checks, paying the bills, etc. The trustees fees are what is paid to the trustee for doing the work of administering the trust.

How Do You Figure Out Who Gets What? – Inheritance with Simultaneous Deaths


Under California law a person can inherit money or property (1) as a result of being named in a legal document such as a will or (2) inheritance can occur because a person is related by blood or marriage to the deceased if there is no will.

Cut out the heirs who challenge the will using No Contest Clauses

Challenges can occur

Image of a courtroom doorIf a will or a trust does not make an equal division of the estate then an unhappy heir might want to make a challenge. The law does not require you to equally divide your estate equally amongst your children or to give anything to them for that matter. Most children or in some instances brothers or sisters where there are no children feel that they are entitled to an inheritance. Not everybody understands or believes that a person making a will or trust can leave his or her assets to anyone. This has led to litigation challenging the provisions of the will or trust.

Reassess Property Tax on Death of an Owner

County assessor will reassess property tax on death of an owner unless prevented


California Property taxes are administered by the County in which the real property is located. The County tax assessor determines the amount of property taxes based upon the fair market value of the property at the date of purchase plus a small amount of increase each year is allowed. The value is called the “assessed value”. The yearly amount of tax is roughly 1.2% of the “assessed value”. Thus, if a property is purchased for $100,000, the annual property tax would be about $1,200 and will increase each year. The county property tax year goes from July 1 through June 30. Tax bills are sent out typically in October and are payable in two installments: December 10 for the first installment and April 10 for the second installment

OMG !!! – I got married and forgot to change my will to add my new wife!

Will Definition

Wills – What if Your Spouse is Omitted ?What if Your Spouse is Omitted – A Will is a written document which states to whom a person’s belongings, money and property are to be given upon death.   A Will is typically effective upon a person’s death and can be changed or replaced any time as long as the Will maker is mentally competent.  People who die without wills are said to die “intestate” so their money and property passes under the laws of intestacy.  Refer to my blog on “passing without any will.”

Wife Passes Away in Middle of Divorce  =  Messy Litigation

We handled a probate court case involving a lady named Susan who died while in the middle of a divorce. She had an expensive ocean view house and lots of valuable furniture and jewelry. At first, nobody could figure out who owned what because Sue’s husband had moved out and filed for divorce. He was claiming in the divorce proceedings that he was owed a lot of money from Sue’s estate and Sue’s divorce attorney was making counter claims back against him because of the huge and lavish debts that he ran up buying fancy clothes in Los Angeles.

Image of Litigation Lawyer spinning plates on sticks

Where to Start?!

Probate is not needed to transfer ownership of joint tenancy property

Generally, Probate court is the legal way for ownership transfer on death

Probate court is generally necessary to transfer ownership of property and accounts upon someone’s demise EXCEPT for some narrow exceptions.  A major exception is property held in joint tenancy ownership. Attorney David Crockett can advise clients as to whether the joint tenancy exception is available and assist in preparing necessary documentation to create joint tenancies and to transfer the property to the survivor when one of the joint tenants passes away.

Collection or transfer of personal property by affidavit will save Probate court delays and expense

Probate Exemption For Small Estates < $150,000

Generally, Probate court is the legal way for ownership transfer on death

Probate court is generally necessary to transfer ownership of property and accounts upon someone’s demise EXCEPT for some narrow loopholes. This loophole rises to the effect of creating a viable Probate Exemption. A major loophole is the collection or transfer of personal property by affidavit. Crockett Law Corporation can advise clients as to whether the loophole is available and assist in preparing necessary documentation.

Procedure for leveraging this Probate Exemption

The way it works is for the personal representative or heirs to prepare a sworn affidavit and present it to effect the transfer.  Typically bank accounts are transferred this way.  Some banks have their own forms and others will require you to bring them the correct form.  For transfer of vehicle titles, the DMV has its own forms to fill out found on the DMV website.