A: If the deceased was survived by one or more parents, only those individuals are intestate heirs entitled to recover under the small estate affidavit. The siblings are not entitled to receive anything.
A: First, many people use the terms "wills" and "trusts" interchangeably, even though they are very different in California.
If your father-in-law had a will, whoever has the original is required, within 30 days of the death, to "lodge" it with the county clerk in the county where the deceased resided at the time of death. If there is no "trust", then the will is typically filed with the court along with a Petition for Probate. Even if your sister-in-law is correct that your wife receives nothing, she is still entitled to receive a copy of the Petition and the Will.
If your father-in-law had a trust, which is more common, whoever is named as the
successor trustee must serve notice of the existence of the trust and certain other information upon all beneficiaries named in the trust as well as all "intestate heirs" which would include your wife. This notice is to be sent within 60 days of the death.
If you were to call the attorney, which it sounds as though you don't know who that is, I doubt he/she would share any information with you. If your wife is concerned about being disinherited, she should contact her own attorney. I do not intend to infer, however, that your father-in-law did not have the right to disinherit your wife. That assumes he was of sound mind and was not being unduly influenced by anyone at the time he executed the will. ... Read More