A: Obviously, as the legal owner of the property, you can sell it or give it away, but if your uncle can prove by clear and convincing evidence that you weren't entitled to the property, then you can be held accountable for the sale proceeds or the fair market value of the gift, so sell or gift at your own peril. Whoever buys the property from you would likely be considered an innocent party, also known as a bona fide purchaser (for value), and would protected. Anyone who receives a gift from you could be required to give up that property if your uncle is able to prove a superior title.
A: More than likely, yes. Did you provide the contestants with notice of the trust as required by California Probate Code section 16061.7 when your uncle died? If not, there’s nothing to prevent the lawsuit from continuing until it’s resolved. There are many reasons why a trust may be invalid, including fraud, duress, mistake of fact or law, undue influence, or lack of capacity. These all involve questions of fact and sometimes the law. That’s what the court system is for. If you haven’t already, I would suggest you get a good probate attorney who can represent you.
A: You don’t need a probate for a small estate (under $166,250). Use a small estate affidavit and send the company a copy of the statute which authorizes the collection procedure (California Probate Code section 13100). Good luck!