My dad passed away and he has no will and his name was the only one on the house. Now does it pass to his wife or does she have to go through probate court in order for her name to be in it?
California is a community property state that allows for "buy-in" of title if a mortgage were paid with community property funds (ie both spouse's wages). If the title can be traced to community property funds as well, that changes its status. Without a will, intestate succession of property occurs via state statute. Here is how property is divided: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displayText.xhtml?lawCode=PROB&division=6.&title=&part=2.&chapter=1.&article=
In friendlier terms: http://www.shepardestateplanning.com/whatisintestatesuccession.html
Although the statutes specifically say to whom what is given, to protect rights, probate is recommended. If your father also resided in Tulare County, or owned property in Tulare County, you would ask that your mother go through (or you if you are an adult) the Superior Court of Tulare County. You will need to open probate. A representative of the estate needs to be appointed via "letters." (ie http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/de150.pdf) An order affirming the letters needs to occur. Contact the applicable superior court for more information. If it's Tulare County: http://www.tularesuperiorcourt.ca.gov/index.php?section=probate
Without a will only non-probate assets (joint tenancy with right of survivorship), unless the decedent's share (1/2 of community property), doesn't exceed $150K. To be on the safe side, consult my colleague who answered your question before I did. She has given you a valuable legal advice. Good luck.
She will need to probate his estate in order for her to inherit a portion of the house. She has priority on probating the estate. If she doesn't want to, then ask her if you can do it for her but her share of the estate will stay the same.
Your mom needs to explain why she was not on title to the house. For example, if she had bad credit, the lender probably refused to let her. As my colleague above mentioned, the house may be considered to be the community property of the marriage if it was acquired during the marriage using community funds. Your mother may be able to file a spousal property petition in probate to have the court determine what her interest is in the house. I would suggest having her consult with an experienced probate attorney.
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