If the order for final distribution contained a clause that says something to the effect of "any after-discovered property shall be distributed to the beneficiaries in the same proportions as stated herein", then you should be able to show the bank a certified copy of the order and have them distribute the assets to you.
You might also be able to use a small estate affidavit.
Given that the filing fees and publication fees to reinitiate a probate would be well over $600, it probably would...
I'm sorry about your mother's death. If your mother had a will, California law requires that it be lodged with the probate court within 30 days after death. If your sister is not willing to start the probate, then you can file your own petition to probate the estate. Contact a probate lawyer in the county where your mother resided to find out more information.
The beneficiary usually has the right to an annual "accounting". If you've been provided with a balance sheet (statement of assets and liabilities) and an income statement (statement of income and expenses), then the trustee would not need to show you the 1041. However, you would have the right to receive (and definitely should so you can file your own tax return accurately!) a "K-1" form for your share of the income and expenses.
I suggest you contact Adult Protective Services for San Diego County as soon as possible: http://www.sdcounty.ca.gov/hhsa/programs/ais/adult_protective_services/index.html
If your mother lives in a different county, then contact APS there. It is quite possible your mother's caregiver has committed financial abuse, but the time to determine that is now - not later.
Your question is not clear. As to how much property one can give to a spouse, the answer depends in part on whether you and your spouse are 'US citizens or not. There are no federal gift taxes (and no California gift taxes) on gifts from a US citizen spouse to another US citizen spouse. The answer is different for non-citizens.
As to "why" a person would make multiple gifts, the answer would require a lot more information - there may be tax reasons or other reasons prompting the gifts.
I agree with Ms. Meagher-Leonard. If you plan to mail these forms to the Probate Court, make sure you two-hole punch them (or the forms will be returned to you unfiled!). Enclose extra copies for the Court to return to you "endorsed, file stamped". Also enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
As Mr. Staub suggests, your best bet might be to contact the bar association in the county where the husband and wife resided. Ask them to send an email to members about whether any of them prepared a will for these people.
If the will wasn't probated and it was not "lodged" with the probate court, I'm afraid you may not have any luck finding the document.
Depending on a number of factors, including how many years elapsed between the husband's and the wife's deaths and whether either...
If you believe there was abuse, then you can report it anonymously to the County Adult Protective Services Agency in the county where your friend lives. It sounds, though, as if that might already have happened if the trustee and the neuropsychologist were "removed".
Here's a link for the Santa Clara County APS: http://www.sccgov.org/sites/ssa/Department%20of%20Aging%20-%20Adult%20Services/Adult%20Protective%20Services/How%20Do%20I%20Make%20a%20Dependent%20Adult%20or%20Elder%20Abuse%...
I agree with Ms. Azam.
Although a will made under the Hague convention may be "legal" in every country that has subscribed to the convention (there are only 14 countries that have subscribed to this particular convention, by the way), the laws of the country where the property is actually located will be enforced if they are contrary to the will ... for example, if you created a will that left everything you own to a charity but you owned real estate in France, French law would disregard...
You appear to be mixing apples and oranges. A will is witnessed; usually a trust is notarized.
This sounds like it was a "do-it-yourself" job; I can't imagine any competent lawyer would let a beneficiary's husband and daughter be witnesses to a will. It raises too many issues. California probate code section 6112 states that just because a witness is "interested" in the will does not automatically make the will invalid, but it does create a strong presumption that duress, undue...