• California Estate Laws

California Estate Laws

California estate laws cover probate, conservatorship, and guardianship. Probate is a legal process that allows a court to oversee how a person’s estate is distributed after they die. Specifically, California has laws about how property is distributed to beneficiaries and heirs. In other words, the court wants to make sure the proper people receive what they are entitled to. Furthermore, the court wants to make sure that all taxes and creditors are paid.

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Conservatorship is a court appointment of one person to help manage the finances, property, and medical needs of another person (the conservatee).  In contrast, in a guardianship the court appoints an adult to oversee a minor child’s well-being and estate until the child turns 18. People often confuse guardianship and conservatorship. As an illustration, guardianship is for someone under 18 years old and conservatorship is for someone over 18 years of age.

A People’s Choice has over 37 years of experience helping families navigate California estate planning laws. For example, we help families file petitions to start California probate. On the other hand, we also can help family members get appointed as a conservator or guardian. Contact us to learn more about the legal document preparation services we provide. Read on to learn more about important California estate laws and how they apply when someone dies.

Will and Last Testament

When a person creates a will and last testament before passing away, they can describe, in detail, . Keep in mind, however, a Last Will and Testament doesn’t necessary avoid probate. By the same token, some small estates can avoid probate because of their low value. Although this may be true, if the decedent owns real property, a probate is probably necessary unless the property is in a trust. The probate process makes sure that the decedent’s estate passes to the right beneficiaries and heirs. The decedent’s estate may include real and personal property, investments, annuities, insurance and pension benefits and other types of assets.

In probate, a probate referee values all assets that are not “cash”. Next, if necessary, the personal representative of the estate pays all outstanding taxes and creditors.  Keep in mind, this may require the personal representative to sell some of the decedent’s assets. Lastly, the representative distributes the remaining assets to the beneficiaries and heirs.

California Estate Laws and Right of Survivorship

Under California estate laws, a surviving spouse receives all community property under California community property laws. With this in mind, community property is property that the couple acquired during their marriage. In addition, a surviving spouse is also entitled to a share of the decedent’s separate property. Under California law, property that was purchased during the marriage is owned collectively by both parties. In the event one spouse passes away, the surviving spouse will inherit the deceased spouse’s interest in this community property.

On the other hand, separate property is property obtained before marriage or by inheritance.  In this regard, California law handles separate property differently, particularly if there is no will. To demonstrate, if there is no will, a spouse will receive their share of the decedent’s community property. In like manner, a spouse is also entitled to receive a share of the decedent’s separate property. In this regard, however, the spouse is only entitled to receive a part share of the separate property. Accordingly, the remaining separate property assets of the decedent will go to the decedent’s children, parents or next of kin.

California Estate Laws When Someone Dies Without a Will

First and foremost, California intestate laws are laws that outline who receives the estate when someone dies without a will. As mentioned above, California estate laws allow a spouse to inherit all the community property of the marriage. At the same time, California estate laws allow a spouse to inherit part of the decedent’s separate property. It is important to realize, however, that California estate laws, do not necessarily give a spouse 100% of the decedent’s assets. In other words, some of the decedent’s assets may be separate property. As discussed above, property that the spouse does not receive will go to the decedent’s surviving children, siblings, parents, or other heirs.

In conclusion, contact A People’s Choice to learn more about California estate laws. You can make sure your estate goes to the people you want it to with good estate planning. Equally important, California estate laws also give you ways to avoid your loved ones filing probate after you die. In other words, A People’s Choice can help you set up your estate plan to avoid probate. By the same token, using the services of A People’s Choice will save you thousands of dollars in attorneys fees. Please call 800-747-2780 for more information about our services.

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By | 2018-03-02T22:44:37+00:00 March 2nd, 2018|Estate Planning|0 Comments

About the Author:

Sandra M. McCarthy, founder of A People’s Choice Inc., has worked exclusively in the legal field since 1976. She served as the 2004-2005 President of CALDA (California Association of Legal Document Assistants). She obtained a Paralegal Certificate from the University of California, Santa Barbara. During her career in the legal field, she has worked as a freelance paralegal, law office manager and paralegal studies teacher, and has co-authored numerous legal publications and written hundreds of self-help legal articles. As a registered Legal Document Assistant, Sandy is dedicated to providing affordable, low-cost, self-help document preparation services for California consumers in all 58 counties.

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