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How to handle spousal probate in order not to loose your money

After my spouse sudden death I was faced with no access to his money, legally it is. Even after he gave me all of his CC cards before passing. He set up and told me how to set up payments from his BOW account to mine WF before he died, but we did not expect it for him to be gone so fast. Luckily, I was receiving my own income and we survived for the first 40 days. However, someone simply stole $11,200.00 from his Bank of the West account, and then from mine after deposit to Wells Fargo. To this day these money were never returned to me. Bank kept it I guess? So what do you need to do to avoid my loss?

Prepare ahead of time. If your spouse or partner does not want to have this conversation about end of life and how to handle it with a Will, make sure you follow all necessary steps to preserve your rights to your spouse assets.

First thing to do is to hire the private detective firm to investigate and locate all of your spouse's assets. I hired Justice Solutions Group LLCCA PI 189000, (16400 Pacific Coast Hwy. STE 211 Huntington Beach, CA 92649), to do the assets search prior to filing. With their help I was able to recovery all stocks and various bank accounts my husband had opened through the years. It would cost you about $1,300.00 to do the initial search, but it is a "worth every penny" investment.

File for Spousal Probate right after 40th day of his death. As far as I know you can do with or without the attorney yourself in the state of CA. You will need to file the form DE-221 with local Superior Court. If your spouse had less than $200K in total assets you can file with court the Affidavit of death of joint tenant. Court probate filing costs $435.00. Our marriage was "Confidential" and so I had to present an actual physical marriage certificate together with the death certificate to the court and all banks, but in most cases, marriage can be verified via general county system or Vital Records sites and copies are not needed.

Many women do not think or prepare for death, it's not the topic people discuss in the bars or coffee shops for fun. But you can be caught in a very ugly legal battle and can become a victim of the fraud, if you are not ready. Request multiple copies of Original Death Certificate.

When my father passed away in 1997, my mother was not ready and did not follow many steps needed to received his formal military pension. Somehow in 2015, my sister and I found out, he was still not even listed "as deceased" in the Kiev's military roster... No one apparently knew he had died in 1997 and was buried in the Lukianivske Military Cemetery, 18 years later. He worked for Military Institute of Telecommunications and Information Technologies (formal KVIRTU) before retiring in 1995. My mother did not have his death certificate. Lucky for us, I kept old records of apartment transfer containing his death information and my sister was able to obtain new death certificate to update official burial records.

Remembering this, I requested at least 4 copies of the original death certificate from the funeral home, as you will need them almost everywhere you go as an Original or Certified copy, for banks and insurance companies. I actually gave one of the original death certificate copies to Make-a-Wish foundation, when I donated 3 of his cars, and never got it back.

Another important thing to remember, but this only applies to formal immigrants, naturalized citizens: if you have changed your name at any point in US, make sure your children's documents and birth records reflect that. Otherwise they can loose their inheritance of whatever you leave them.

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