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Just Me!

No will & sole ownership of property

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 My Dad pasted about a year ago with no will.  He was married at that time.  He has owned a vacant piece of property (less 1/2 acre) for 15 + years in California. He purchased it with his wife at that time. Within a couple of years he was awarded sole ownership of said property in the divorce.  Since then, he has been married and divorced several more times, all the while said property has remained in his name as sole owner. I am now ready to transfer said property into my name, along with paying all  of the back property taxes that are due on it. Am I within my rights to do this? 

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The rights to this piece of property have never come up in any of the subsequent divorce proceedings?

 

Have there been any intestate probate proceedings (meaning without a will) ever been done for his estate at the county courthouse?

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You probably can't transfer the property to yourself unless you are appointed representative of his estate by the probate court.

 

Once you have that, you will have to review every divorce decrees from all his divorces to see if any of his ex wives have a claim to it.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Just Me! said:

I am now ready to transfer said property into my name, along with paying all  of the back property taxes that are due on it. Am I within my rights to do this?

 

That depends.

 

1. Has the probate court appointed you as the personal representative of your father's estate?

2. Was your father married at the time of his death?

3. Are you your father's only child?

4. If your father had more children than you, are any of your siblings still alive?

5. Did any deceased siblings have children?

6. Is this the only real property he owned?

7. How much is the property worth (more or less than $50k)?

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2 hours ago, knort4 said:

The rights to this piece of property have never come up in any of the subsequent divorce proceedings?

 

Have there been any intestate probate proceedings (meaning without a will) ever been done for his estate at the county courthouse?

Said piece of property has never been a issue in any of his divorce proceedings.  There has been NO probate proceedings ever done.

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44 minutes ago, pg1067 said:

 

That depends.

 

1. Has the probate court appointed you as the personal representative of your father's estate?

2. Was your father married at the time of his death?

3. Are you your father's only child?

4. If your father had more children than you, are any of your siblings still alive?

5. Did any deceased siblings have children?

6. Is this the only real property he owned?

7. How much is the property worth (more or less than $50k)?

He was married at the time of his death.  I am the only child. It is his only real property he owned. And the property is worth less then $15,000 on a really good day.

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1 hour ago, Just Me! said:

On my fathers death certificate, I am listed as the Informant, his daughter, and my mailing address. 

 

That has nothing to do with you deeding the property to yourself.

 

1 hour ago, Just Me! said:

Said piece of property has never been a issue in any of his divorce proceedings. 

 

How do you know? Did you review the divorce decrees in each divorce file? Never assume anything when it comes to divorce.

 

1 hour ago, Just Me! said:

There has been NO probate proceedings ever done.

 

There is something that will have to be done with the probate court, even if it qualifies for small estate handling. You have to be appointed representative of the estate.

 

1 hour ago, Just Me! said:

He was married at the time of his death. 

 

There's the big problem. You are going to have to determine if the wife has any community interest in the property. A community interest can be generated if your father used any of his income (which is community property) to support his solely owned property (like paid for taxes, insurance and/or maintenance).

 

Worse, under California's intestate (no will) succession law the surviving spouse gets 1/2 of the estate plus any community interest (if any) and you get 1/2.

 

Step 1 - File with the probate court to become representative of the estate.

 

Step 2 - Ask the wife to quitclaim any interest she might have in the property. Record the quitclaim deed.

 

Step 3 - As representative of his estate you can then execute a deed from the estate to you, provided all of his debts have been paid out of the estate's assets. If there wasn't enough money to pay his debts, you'll have to either sell the property to pay them, or pay the debts yourself so you can keep the property.

 

I think you should talk to a probate attorney about all this before you make any costly mistakes.

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Just Me! said:

He was married at the time of his death.  I am the only child. It is his only real property he owned. And the property is worth less then $15,000 on a really good day.

 

The good news is that, since your father owned real property worth less than $50k, you can make use of the Affidavit Procedure for Real Property of Small Value without having to go through formal probate (unless he had sufficient other assets to make probate required).

 

The bad news is that your father's surviving spouse has as much or more claim to the property as you do (as discussed in "adjusterjack's" response), so you will, at a minimum, need to work this out with her.

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