My friend died and nothing is being done. What happens?

Her only brother and relative lives far away and is not accomplishing anything. She has 2 houses (1 paid for) and a mortgage and debt for city and IRS taxes on the other. The probate attorney has done nothing for over a month. Her ex-boyfriend collected all of her life insurance etc. because she never changed it and he immediately left town. Why weren’t her debts taken out of that? Her paid for mobile home is in a park. What will happen since the rent isn’t being paid? She had an accidental death policy on her car. Will they seize that right away?

Asked on May 31, 2009 under Estate Planning, California


L.M., Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You say there is a probate attorney involved.  He or she should be taking care of some matters--but these things take a long time.  Is there a will?  If so, who is the executor?  If not, the court will appoint a personal administrator of the estate during the probate process.  Once it is underway, and that could take a few months' time, the court will determine what assets exist, what debts exist, what taxes are owed and make sure all of the debts (including any remaining medical bills and funeral costs) and taxes are paid before any assets are sold and/or distributed.  Regarding the mobile home, the rent should be paid to the estate, and you can bring that to the attention of the lawyer so he sends a notice to the renter regarding continuing to pay the rent.

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