There certainly is a strong finality that comes with death. Yet what many in Westminster may fail to appreciate is that such a finality does apply to any debts that may owe. Indeed, when one dies in debt, the responsibility to settle those liabilities falls to their estate. Given that CBS News reports that Americans are dying with an average of $62,000 in debt, the likelihood that one’s heirs will be left to deal their debts is relatively high.
One of main purposes of estate planning is to ensure that one’s debts can be settled while still preserving assets for their beneficiaries. Yet in many cases, debts may only be able to be resolved after estate assets have been liquidated. Oftentimes, such assets may include one’s home and other personal property. What, then, are those who survived a decedent who also enjoyed the use of those assets to do if they indeed must be sold?
No one wants to see one’s family kicked out into the street shortly following their death. Thus, the law has provided an avenue which allows a decedent’s family to remain relatively safe and secure even with the potential of their home being sold in an estate sale looming over them. According to Section 6500 of California’s Probate Code, a decedent’s spouse and minor children are legally entitled to maintain temporary possession of their home and other personal property up until the filing of the estate inventory and for up to 60 days thereafter. This should provide them with adequate time to secure access to other similar benefits before being forced to relinquish those that might exchange ownership through the administration of the estate. If more time is needed beyond that 60-day period, the court may indeed grant it through a petition.