As a recent widow, wilI need to open probate for anything?

I live in a community property state and I just lost my husband of 12 years. He had no written Will. He had no real estate or bank accounts. He has a 401 (k) and a life insurance policy listing me as sole beneficiary. He also has a final paycheck due from his employer. These are the only funds/assets that he has left behind for us. He has one credit card with debt (I was not a cosigner on it), and some older collections on his credit report. He also owed back child support for his children from a previous relationship. Will I need to open probate for anything? And which funds are subject to his debt collection?

Asked on August 17, 2012 under Estate Planning, California


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

I am so srry for your loss.  The assets held jointly passed to you automatically upon your husband's death and are not subject to probate.  Same holds trust for anything that passed through beneficiary designation like the 401(k) and life insurance.  But you may need to open an estate proceeding for everything else. and you need to speak with ana ttorney about the back support. If there is a judgement then the children can go after the estate proceeds.  So you need to figure out what you should do.  Good luck.

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