Dying without a will in California subjects your estate to California intestate succession laws. In other words, the probate court will determine your heirs. Plus, they decide which property to award to each person. Read on to learn more about what happens to an estate when a person dies without a will in California and how A People’s Choice can help.
Typical Estate Probate Administration
Probate is the legal process of administering a decedent’s estate. In other words, when a person dies, their estate must go through the probate process. On one hand, if the decedent executed a will, the court will decide if it should be admitted to probate and given legal effect. Typically, if the court deems the will valid, they will distribute property as the document instructs. On the other hand, if a decedent dies without a will, the probate court will appoint an officer of the court to distribute the estate according to the laws of intestacy.
Dying Without a Will in California: Intestate Succession Laws
The assets of a decedent’s estate lacking a valid will are subject to California intestate succession laws. The following chart outlines which relative inherits which assets of the decedent’s estate under intestate succession:
|Family Relationship||Dying Without A Will in California
|Spouse and no children, parents, or siblings||Spouse will inherit everything|
|Spouse and children||Spouse will inherit the decedent’s ½ of community property assets and ½ of the decedent’s separate property
Children will inherit the remaining ½ of the separate property
|Children and no spouse, parents, or siblings||Children will inherit everything|
|Parents and no spouse, children, or siblings||Parents will inherit everything|
|Siblings and no spouse, children, or parents||Siblings will inherit everything|
|Spouse and parents, no children or siblings||Spouse will inherit all community property assets and ½ separate property
Parents will inherit remaining ½ of separate property
|Spouse and siblings, no parents or children||Spouse will inherit all community property assets and ½ separate property
Siblings will inherit remaining ½ of separate property
In the event of no surviving relatives, a decedent’s property may “escheat” to the state.
Spouse’s Intestate Succession Share
When a spouse dies without a will in California, the other spouse will inherit ½ of the community property, or property acquired while married. Additionally, the surviving spouse will also inherit ½ of the decedent’s separate property. However, a surviving spouse may inherit more than ½ of the separate property depending on whether the decedent has living children, parents, or siblings.
Children’s Intestate Succession Share
Each child’s intestate share will depend on how many children the decedent had and the decedent’s marriage status. Legally speaking, children include biological and adopted children. Thus, foster and stepchildren typically do not receive an intestate share. However, if they seek to get a share, they will have to prove that their relationship with the decedent began when they were a minor, and that they would have been adopted if it had been legally possible.
Help Administering an Estate Without a Will in California
Contact A People’s Choice today to find out more information about our estate planning services. We can help you draft a will, living trust, or power of attorney. Preparing these legal documents can ensure your loved ones are taken care of upon your death.
If a family member or friend has died without making proper estate plans and has no will, get in touch. We can provide you with various materials about how to administer the estate and help prepare the necessary documentation. Call us today at 800-747-2780.