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Does my mother need to be named executor of estate if she's on my father's will?

Bakersfield, CA |

My father was diagnosed with incurable prostate cancer and squamous cell carcinoma. If he passes, does my mother need his will and document called executor of estate to continue to pay the loan on their home. She is on the title of the home but not the loan. If she doesn't drive, will she be able to become owner of his vehicles? Thank you.

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Attorney answers 5


She does not "need" to but she is entitled by law to be named executor over all community property - and unless the Will states otherwise, likely has a first opportunity over non-community property as well.

Matthew Johnson phone# 206.747.0313 is licensed in the State of Washington and performs bankruptcy, short sale negotiations, and estate planning in Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, King and Pierce counties. The response does not constitute specific legal advice, which would require a full inquiry by the attorney into the complete background of the facts and circumstances surrounding this matter; rather, it is intended to be general legal information based on the limited information provided by the inquirer; it This response also does not constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship, which can only be established after a conflict of interest evaluation is completed, your case is accepted, and a fee agreement is signed. Johnson Legal Group, PLLC


I am sorry for your dad's condition. Fortunately, it sounds like there may still be time to prepare a trust and fund the trust. Absent that, title to the property should be community property with rights of survivorship, same for bank accounts. As to the cars, filing forms with the DMV with the Will and death certificate will be enough. Try to contact a local estate planning attorney for assistance immediately.

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I'm sorry for your circumstances, but Attorney Johnson is correct. Ideally, your father would be able to meet with an experienced estate planning lawyer who could review your parents' assets and prepare the necessary documentation to insure that the assets are passed easily to your mother at your father's passing. Furthermore, the attorney may be able to work with the bank to confirm that your mother can continue to pay the mortgage after your father's death without any undue problems. Good luck to you and your family.

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I very sorry to hear about your circumstances. You may be able to contact the mortgage company to get your mother named on the loan during your father's life, absent that you may need to refinance the loan once your father passes as the loan will become due at that point. Becoming owner of the vehicles is a simple matter of filing an affidavit with the DMV to transfer title. I would highly recommend preparing a trust for your parents now to help avoid some of the difficulties you have mentioned and some others which you may not have considered. An advanced health care directive and power of attorney for your father will likely be valuable as well. Again, I am truly sorry to hear about your circumstance.

The information provided is general information, and the opinion of one attorney. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. No attorney client relationship is created by virtue of my response to this question.


She will need to file a Petition For Probate of the estate and submit the will to the probate court. She can only act upon orders of the court. The Will expresses your father's intentions but the court will need to issue orders according to the Will. She will be able to become owner of the vehicles even though she doesn't drive.

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