I am so sorry for your loss. Yes, personally I would contact an attorney. Ask some friends, coworkers, family for suggestions. You don't have to do this tomorrow, but do it.....don't put it off.
I am so sorry you had to join this club.
I'm neither an attorney nor in your state (state laws vary) but here are a few thoughts. I never needed an attorney after DH's death because the house was in the name of a trust with me as trustee, we'd both signed the mortgage, and he had very little else to his name. That was deliberate; we even transferred the cars over to me (no loans) the month before he died. His name is on several utility bills but that's no big deal. They cheerfully accept checks from my account and I have no intention of changing them. He had a small checking account at Bank of America and they must tap into the Social Security Death Database (all funeral directors are required to report to it) because they contacted me. I just filled out the paperwork they sent me an eventually got a check for the balance in the account. I do need to get the trust and my will updated but have been dragging my feet because both had clear provisions about how things would go if DH predeceased me.
If only your DH signed the mortgage you'll need to re-qualify in your name. As far as I know, you don't need to do anything if you both signed it. I haven't. Same with car loans. You may need to get the title transferred to your name if it's in his name only. Your Motor Vehicle Bureau should be able to tell you that- no attorney needed.
Did he have a will? That would make it easier for the Motor Vehicle Bureau to transfer title to you. If he had no will, most state laws have "default" provisions for who gets what. Here's a link for California.
It might be cleaner to get the title to the house in your name and that will require an attorney, An attorney will undoubtedly want to draw up a will for you if you don't have one. It's not a bad idea, particularly if you have children and want to be able to name guardians for them.
Did your DH have a 401(k) or life insurance through his employer? Contact their HR department if either is a possibility. No attorney needed.
There's no mad rush for any of this but they do need to be done, and maybe concrete accomplishments like this will help, even though they may also make your loss more real.
I'm sorry you had to join this group, especially at such a young age. I hope you find comfort and wisdom here.
That's good advice, but if you are not good with paperwork and dealing with procedures, hire an attorney. If you are patient, thorough and good with paperwork then I agree, no attorney needed in CA. it is a community property state, so as long he didn't have significant assets prior to you being married, what ever belonged to the both of you, now belongs to you.
First off: None of this is to be construed as legal advice.As an attorney (TX, not CA), I would advise at least consulting with a lawyer. Yes, a lot of things can get worked out without involving the legal process. Things like 401k, IRA's, and accounts/property that was held jointly with rights of survivorship will pass through with minimal, or at most moderate, paperwork involved. However, the relatively minor investment in getting advice from someone that knows how to handle it, and can be held professionally responsible if they don't assist you properly, is well worth it. IMHO. I don't practice in CA and I don't practice probate/estate law. I researched the law and thought I had a good handle on it but I hired a lawyer to assist me anyway. Because he/she who acts as their own lawyer has a fool for a client! The lawyer I hired has already paid for herself with her advice; not to mention the certainty I have in knowing it all is being done correctly. In my experience, when a client tries to do something themselves, and then figures out they are in too deep, one of two things happen typically: They end up paying a lot more fixing things than just doing them right the first time OR a lawyer won't get near the mess that has been made.
Get a recommendation from someone you trust.
So sorry you have joined us. No one chooses to be here. My husband passed almost five years ago after a very long illness. That gave me time to get many things into place so that financially I would be OK. I don't live in your state and your situation is very different from mine. I went online and Googled "what to do when a spouse dies". There were many lists. My husband wasn't in the military so I could skip over those items. You don't mention children, so that should make decisions a bit easier for you. Our children were grown; ditto on the skipping over part. My suggestion is that you take small steps and one day at a time. You probably have people in your life who can help point you in the right direction: maybe an insurance agent, banker, real estate agent, Dept. of Motor Vehicles, tax preparation service, for example. Ask them questions. Don't try to get everything resolved in a few days. It was just a few days ago I got some mail about a forgotten account -- almost five years after his death! Your grief is very fresh right now; trust me, it will get better as your anxiety lessens. This site is a good, supportive, helpful place to be and I'm glad you found us. Take care.
I am in California and lost my husband last December. I got a referral through the employee assistance at work and had a half hour consultation for free. Most things you can do on your own, but it was nice to lay everything out and have him review and let me know I was on the right track. We have small kids and didn't have a trust so I did end up hiring him to do my trust, power of attorney, advance directive and some other things. It was nice to have someone that I trusted to go over everything and it made me more confident working through everything. There is so much to do, I tried to make myself complete one task a week. Its a long process, but I did find that having so many tasks to complete helped to keep me busy and going. Good luck with everything!