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My husband passed away we did not have a will or living trust, I am his beneficiary will this still have to go in to Probate?

Gilroy, CA |

He had many outstanding credit cards in his name only, and a boat loan that we are currently paying on. Are these transferred to my name and responsibility?

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Attorney answers 5


The answer to your question is not easy. California is a community property state which mean community of property community of debt. That said, his debt is not automatically yours, timing and circumstances need to be reviewed. In addition, without beneficiary designations, you are only entitled to 1/2 of his separate, 100% of community property. If he has more than one child then you are only entitled to 1/3 of community property.

As to his debts, whether community or separate property, there are statutory ways to deal with them in property.

I would suggest you meet with a local probate attorney and discuss the best options for you.

The general advice above does not constitute an attorney-client relationship: you haven't hired me or my firm or given me confidential information by posting on this public forum, and my answer on this public forum does not constitute attorney-client advice. IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: In order to comply with requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Service, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. While I am licensed to practice in New York and California, I do not actively practice in New York. Regardless, nothing said should be deemed an opinion of law of any state. All readers need to do their own research or pay an attorney for a legal opinion if one is necessary or desired.

Charles Adam Shultz

Charles Adam Shultz


Sorry, meant to say 1/3 of separate property. You get 100 percent of community property.


Mr. Shultz has provided you with excellent information. Please sit down with an attorney to go over your specific situation. Personal and specific advise will be of great value to you.


You really will need to sit down with a probate attorney who can ask you various questions to help determine whether probate is necessary and whether you'll need to pay any of the credit card debts.

If this information has been helpful, please indicate below. Stephen Pearcy is licensed to practice law in California. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. The response is for legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question.


Unless you held any assets as joint tenancy, then yes will need to go through probate. If there are any community assets, then the probate would need to determine if you get them or if his share of the community estate would need to be passed to his children or heirs.


I agree with my colleagues. I would simply point out that the boat loan is very likely secured by the boat itself. As with a mortgage, even if you are not responsible for the loan, because it is a secured debt, if it is not paid, the security can be lost.

James Frederick

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