The following information can be found, here: http://www.norcalprobate.com/CM/ProbateOverview/Heggstad-Petitions.html
When a person's property has been placed in a living trust prior to death, that property can be transferred directly to heirs and beneficiaries upon death without the time and expense of a probate proceeding. However, sometimes people fail to include all of their property in the trust before they die. When this happens, a simplified form of probate known as a Heggstad petition may be available in California for property left outside of the trust. While a full probate proceeding takes a minimum of seven months and costs up to 6 percent of the property, a Heggstad petition can be completed in two months and often costs less than $1,500.
Best of luck to you!
*** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state.
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Elder Law Attorney
Wow! They really do do things different in California!
Here's more background from Law Offices of Shahram Miri, Inc., PC:
"One of the required elements of a California revocable trust is that the trust be funded with some piece of property, whether real or personal. Prob C §15202. Often times, a person who creates a trust without the assistance of counsel will fail to formally transfer their assets into the trust because they are either unaware of the requirement or are unsure as to how to effect the transfer from themselves as an individual to themselves as trustee of their trust. A famous California probate case was the result of the failure to formally fund a trust. In Estate of Heggstad (1993) 16 CA4th 943, the trust drafter failed to formally transfer his home into his revocable trust but his revocable trust included a declaration of trust in which it listed his home as an asset of the trust. The Heggstad opinion said that this declaration of trust was sufficient to transfer his home into the trust even though he never formally transferred his home through a deed into the trust. Consequently, many California attorneys now file Heggstad petitions on behalf of their clients to formally transfer an asset, namely a house, into the decedent’s trust so as to avoid probate. Prob C §850. "
Yikes! Who would of thought?
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Estate Planning Attorney
Heggstad petitions are fact specific and therefore the cost varies based on the facts. Chances of success also depend on the county in which the proceeding is being filed. Some counties are more reluctant to grant Heggstad petitions than others.
As to whether all of the decedent's assets can be declared to be trust assets, that too will depend on your facts. You have not provided enough information to make a determination. It is important to know what type of proof you have that the decedent intended his assets to be transfered to the trust. What kind of assets are you talking about? For example, while a general assignment will work to transfer securities and bank accounts, it is insufficient to transfer real estate under the Statute of Frauds. Real Property must be identified with more specificity than is present in a general assignment.
You will need to see a lawyer who can review your documentation and your facts and give you an estimate of your chances of success as well as an estimate of the cost of proceeding.
DISCLAIMER: THE INFORMATION PRESENTED HERE IS GENERAL IN NATURE. IT IS NOT INTENDED, NOR SHOULD IT BE CONSTRUED, AS LEGAL ADVICE. THIS RESPONSE DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN US. YOU SHOULD CONSULT WITH A QUALIFIED ATTORNEY FOR SPECIFIC LEGAL ADVICE ABOUT YOUR PARTICULAR SITUATION.
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