An LA woman might lose the house she shared with her common law husband of 27 years. He allegedly hand wrote a will leaving the house to her. Nonetheless, the Los Angeles County Public Administrator is proceeding with a sale of the house for non-payment of debts and potential buyers traipse through the house while she is present.
1. Even with a handwritten will, the will must be probated. Leaving it in a drawer does not transfer any assets.
2. The common law husband could have added her to the deed as a joint tenant to immediately transfer the house to her upon his death.
3. Some like to decry notions of traditional marriage, but spouses have more rights and protections under law than non-spouses including the right to inherit when there is no will and the right to remain in a house.
4. Even people of modest means and limited assets need estate planning.
5. Newton’s First Law applies to government – a government procedure in motion stays in motion. Someone should pause the bureaucratic machine until the woman’s rights can be ascertained. If banks were behaving this way, there would be an outcry, protests, Congressional hearings, and a class action suit. Because it is a governmental agency, people shrug and figure “that is government.”