Probate, Wills & Trusts
By ATTY. ROBERT L. FERRIS
When Maria passed away she was survived by her 31 year old son Raymond and her 33 year old daughter Susan. Maria made a will leaving her house in Daly City to her two children. The house was worth about $700,000 and had a mortgage of $335,000. If the house was sold, after paying off the mortgage and the cost of sale, Raymond and Susan would each received about $175,000. Susan was married and lived in Sacramento. Raymond was living with his mother when she died and he helped with the mortgage payments. Susan wanted to sell the house and use her share of the money to buy a house in Sacramento, but Raymond wanted to keep the family home and continue living there. This was the house where he grew up.
Raymond offered to buy his sister’s share and she agreed, but Raymond could not get a loan from the bank to pay his sister because his name was not on title to the property. The only way Raymond could get his name on title was to probate the will at a cost about $20,000. Neither Raymond or Susan had that kind of money and so the family home had to be sold in order to pay the cost of the probate. If Maria had prepared a revocable trust prior to her death, title to the property could have been transferred almost immediately to her two children and Raymond would have been able to obtain a loan, pay his sister and keep the family home.
When George passed away he was survived by his four children. At the time of his death George lived in a condominium in San Bruno which he bought 23 years ago. The condominium was now worth about $400,000 and was fully paid. His daughter Alice, who was 48 years old, was legally blind and receiving government benefits, including MediCal. The MediCal benefits were very important to Alice because she had a number of health issues, and without MediCal she would never be able to pay the costs of her medications or doctor’s visits. George knew he should talk to an attorney about getting a trust but he kept putting it off.
All of George’s children except Alice either owned their own home or lived outside of California. The children decided to sell the condominium and divided the money four ways. Because George did not have a trust his estate was probated at a cost of about $25,000 and the house was sold. Alice received her 1/4 share which caused her to lose her government benefits, including MediCal. Had George met with an attorney, George could have created a special needs trust for Alice, she would not have lost her government benefits and the other three children would have received their share of George’s estate.
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