How to insure that my father’s estate does not end in a probate?

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How to insure that my father’s estate does not end in a probate?

My father is 76 years old and is still legally married to his second wife. However, they filed for divorce 10 years ago but she would not sign the papers. They have not lived together since that time. My father has a house that her purchased before his many years before his second marriage. There is another property that is paid in full and his wife spouse is been residing in it. The final property was purchased about 3 years ago and is also is paid in full. He wants me, his daughter, to have that home since I am the one who has been residing with him and taking care of him. He has only his name on the deed or title of the home. He has never told his wife that he purchased this house since he has not spoken with her in 10 years and does not want to. Would you advise just adding my name to the title at the County Clerk’s office? Would that ensure that in the event of his death that none of the other family members could attempt to take it or have it sold?

Asked on October 16, 2016 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Community property is property acquired during marriage.  Each spouse has a one half interest in the community property.
Separate property is property acquired before marriage or after the marriage ends.  A spouse has no claim to the other spouse's separate property.
Although your father's second wife did not sign the divorce documents, they are separated with no intent to reunite. Therefore, the house in which you and your father reside is your father's separate property since it was purchased after your father and ex were separated with no intent to reunite which means that the ex has no claim to it.
Since you don't want that house to go through probate, your father could transfer the house to you now by a quitclaim deed.  A quitclaim deed will release your father's entire right, title, and interest in the house to you.  A quitclaim deed must be signed in the presence of a notary.  It becomes effective upon being recorded (filed with the County Recorder).


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