If he died intestate (with no will), it would appear a probate is necessary.
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The complexity of your matter is compounded by the fact that you were still legally married, living apart for years, and for some reason you have signed off or took your name off title in 2004. Something must have motivated you to take your name off the title. You have an unusual blend, and I think you are gong to have to speak with two attorneys with different expertise, or find an attorney that has dealt with a lot of probate as well as family law issues. You have complex facts, but with a long term marriage there will be enough Court of Appeal and California Supreme Court decisions available to make it certainly possible in obtaining a defined answer once the research is completed.
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I don't think this is complex, assuming there are no other folks who will challenge you. Just go to a local probate lawyer who can get this processed.
However, I am going to assume you didn't give all the facts and that there ARE heirs that will challenge your right to the property since when you separated the property became his separate property, which without a will passes to his heirs, according to CA laws, So you need to talk to a local probate attorney who can advise you, AFTER disclosing all the facts.
If the value of the property is not that much because there is a high loan on the property for ex, it may not be worth the trouble or expense in any event.
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