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  1. Fallen We didn't hire an attorney. A couple of days after my dad passed my stepmother contacted my father's lawyer to see how to get funds freed up as the season was about to start and she no longer had any access to the business or his personal account. This is when the attorney advised her that there wasn't a will and that she had no claim to anything due to the divorce settlement she signed. Releasing everything over to my dad. At that point my stepmother wasn't wanting anything and was okay w/me being administrator throughout probate. We just continued to use this same lawyer as it seemed simple enough to just wait out probate as my father didn't have more than two outstanding debts that would get paid off right away. We were trying to get through as a family, but just last week my stepmother and her attorney met with me and my lawyer to advise us she's planning on filing a motion to contest her divorce (her words). Since they were still married, I think what she's in essence trying to do is contest the divorce settlement...now stating she signed under duress. She felt threatened by my dad. (they were married 30yrs) The divorce was filed and settlement signed in October 2014 and she began moving later that month and by November she had relocated out of state. I wasn't aware the settlement contract was considered seperate and still valid from the divorce and that is why I was thinking she's going to receive some if not all of the estate. This is all new for me and since I'm not from California I was trusting my father's lawyer could see me through probate. Finding out she no longer plans to work with me I'm looking for a probate attorney who has experience since its no longer going to be a smooth transition as a family. As I get more details I will try to update you. FindLaw-FN In the beginning she did work with the equipment some, but as the business grew she transitioned into the Office/Payroll Person and my dad took care of the labor, delivery...hands on work. It started small one tractor, small piece of land to a large acreage of land, large fleet of equipment, delivery trucks, contract with large business, local farmers...overall a very successful business of almost 30yrs.
  2. Platinum Contibutor: My assumption or understanding, if you will about "still married" was a response to fact that he died while they were legally married. My "basis for presuming there is any basis to make a deal" is that she indicated she feels she will only receive half and stated that she did not want to partner with us. So to avoid having to work with us she'd prefer to just make a cash offer and sign over mine and my niece's portion, if there is any. I did assume the settlement would be void since the marriage is still legal. I figured the contract would not be binding since my dad died. This will be a question (one of many) to have my probate lawyer answer. I do have an attorney and am in the process of aquiring a second (probate). My statement of "one last question" was only in reference to that post. I do not and would not presume comments throughout this feed from strangers would be my final answer to anything. I have questions running throughout my mind and decided to put them out there, perhaps poorly written, but overall just to ask them out loud and hear some non-bias responses. I am extremely grateful for any and all suggestions given to me.
  3. Thank you everyone. You answered a lot of questions. Now to answer some of yours: There was not a will. I do have an attorney that's assisted me with starting the probate process. Thus I was named the administrator of the estate. Yes, my younger brother predeceased my father and had one daughter. That is why I referred to myself and my niece as potential heirs. My attorney stated that if they're considered still married (which I now know they are) the signed divorce settlement still comes into play. It basically stated that my step-mother was giving over all her rights to property and business to my father. She signed the deed over to him. She left with a their second home, her truck, one pet and one bank account...at the time she just wanted out. I understand now that they will be considered married; thus she will receive all community property. I'm assuming the settlement is also void? She's offerring a deal because she doesn't want to chance that me or my niece get any of the business. As she plans to bring her grandson in to run it and does not want to partner with us...in the event we get a small percentage. One last question, does the business fall under community property?
  4. California State: My dad died a few months back. I was named administrator of his estate while we go through probate. He was just 26 days short of being legally divorced. His ex-spouse (my step-mother) signed over the deed to all the property & business in their divorce settlement and relocated out of state. We aren't completely sure who stands to inherit my father's estate. QUESTION: 1) Will the court consider them still married? 2) In California if they didn't have their community & business property seperated does everything then become community property? 3) If she is ruled to still be legally married does that mean she gets everything or do my niece and I still have stand to inherit a percentage? 4) She's filing a claim to contest her divorce, but has offered my niece and me a deal - cash payout and leave (successful) business to her and we agree to not have any claim on the business. If we agree she won't contest the divorce, but assumes she will be given everything when probate ends.
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