• dying without a will in california

Dying Without a Will in California

Dying without a will in California subjects an estate to California intestate succession laws. By using intestate succession laws, the probate court is able to decide who the estate heirs are and the property that will be awarded 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 you.

Probate Administration of An Estate

Probate is the legal process wherein the estate of a decedent is administered. When a person dies, his/her estate must go through the probate process. If the decedent executed a will, the court will decide if it should be admitted to probate and given legal effect. If the will is deemed valid, the probate court will distribute the property of the estate as instructed by the will. If the decedent dies without a will, the probate court will appoint an officer of the court to distribute the decedent’s estate according to the laws of intestacy.

Dying Without a Will in California Subjects Estate to California Intestate Succession Laws

The assets of the decedent’s estate that would otherwise be distributed through a valid will is subject to California intestate succession laws. Below is a chart of which relative will inherit the assets of the decedent’s estate under intestate succession when dying without a will:

Family RelationshipDying Without A Will in California
Intestate Succession
Spouse and no children, parents, or siblingsSpouse will inherit everything
Spouse and childrenSpouse 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 siblingsChildren will inherit everything
Parents and no spouse, children, or siblingsParents will inherit everything
Siblings and no spouse, children, or parentsSiblings will inherit everything
Spouse and parents, no children or siblingsSpouse will inherit all community property assets and ½ separate property
Parents will inherit remaining ½ of separate property
Spouse and siblings, no parents or childrenSpouse will inherit all community property assets and ½ separate property
Siblings will inherit remaining ½ of separate property

  • 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.

Spouse’s Intestate Succession Share

When dying without a will in California, a spouse will inherit the decedent’s ½ of community property (property acquired between husband and wife while married). The surviving spouse will also inherit ½ of the decedent’s separate property. 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

The decedent’s legal children will receive an “intestate share” of the estate. Each child’s intestate share will depend on how many children the decedent had and whether or not the decedent was married. Legal children include biological and adopted children.

Foster and stepchildren typically do not receive an intestate share. If they seek to get an intestate share of the estate, they will have to prove that the decedent and their relationship began when they were a minor, and that they would have been adopted if it had been legally possible.

Help Administrating Estate Without a Will

Under certain circumstances, the decedent’s property may “escheat” to the state in the event there are no surviving relatives. Contact A People’s Choice today to find out more information about our estate planning service. We can help you draft a will, living trust, or power of attorney.  Preparing these legal documents can make sure 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, we can provide you with various materials about how to administer the estate as well as prepare the necessary documentation. Contact us today at 800-747-2780.

Get help with your California legal documents today!

A People’s Choice can save you hundreds of dollars by preparing your legal documents instead of an expensive attorney!

GET STARTED!

We would love to know your thoughts on this article. Connect with us over on Google+ or Twitter and join the conversation

By |2018-01-18T15:47:34+00:00June 7th, 2015|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.

Leave A Comment

error: