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Palm Springs Law Blog

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

What to Know About California’s Intestate Succession Laws

For those who own a home in the U.S., it’s a good idea to establish an estate plan in order to be sure that your home goes to whom you desire when you die. Placing your home in a trust can be a good option, since it will also help your loved ones to avoid the probate process, saving them time and money.

If you don’t place your home in a trust prior to passing away, there are a couple of different things that could happen, depending upon whether or not you have died intestate (without a will) or with a will.

When You Have a Will

The good news is that those in California who die with a will can rest easy in knowing that their property will go to those whom they have designated. The bad news is that without being placed in a trust your house will not escape the probate process.

There are some circumstances in which an estate can avoid the probate process with just a will. However, the only types of estates that can do so are those with no real property (homes) and that don’t exceed $150,000 in personal property. These are called small estates. It’s important to note that recipients would still have to wait at least 40 days from the date that the decedent passed away. To put it simply, any estate with a home that isn’t held in a trust, but instead, simply a will may not avoid the probate process.

When You Don’t Have a Will

When you pass away intestate (without a will), it can greatly complicate things. That’s why it’s in your best interest to plan your estate sooner rather than later.

So what happens when you pass away intestate in California? Your assets will be distributed according to state law. It’s just about always recommended that you create a comprehensive estate plan, which includes a will. However, it’s still really important to understand how California law works and in which order the assets are distributed to surviving relatives:

Spouses and Children

  • If you have a spouse but no kids: Your spouse will inherit all property
  • If you have a spouse and kids: Your spouse will inherit all community property and 50% separate property. Your kids will inherit the remaining estate in equal amounts.

Parents’ Rights to Inheritance

  • If you have no spouse or kids but have parents: Your parents will inherit all property.
  • If you have a spouse and parents: Your parents will inherit all community property and half of the separate property. Your parents will inherit the other half of the separate property.

Siblings’ Rights to Inheritance

  • If you don’t have parents or descendants but you have siblings: Your siblings will inherit the property.
  • If you don’t have parents or descendants but have a spouse and siblings: Your siblings will inherit half of the separate property and your spouse will inherit the remainder of the estate.

No Surviving Family

  • If you don’t have a spouse, children, parents or nephews: The inheritance will go to living nieces or nephews
  • If you don’t have any of the above or living nieces or nephews: The inheritance will go to your grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other distant relatives
  • If you don’t have any surviving relatives: The inheritance will go to the State of California

If you have a loved one who has died intestate, it’s important to reach out to ensure that those who deserve the inheritance are granted it within an appropriate amount of time.

Heritage Legal, PC Helps Those in California to Create a Comprehensive Estate Plan

You’ve worked hard for all of your assets. That’s why it’s so important to ensure that they go to those whom you wish to receive them. Without a comprehensive estate plan, this is not guaranteed.

This is why it is in the best interest of you and your loved ones to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced California Estate Planning Attorney who can help to walk you through each step of the process. He or she can listen to your wishes, provide legal advice, and help to ensure that you have covered all of your bases in order to prevent any type of conflict between your loved ones when you are gone.

At Heritage Legal, PC, we understand the importance of protecting those whom you care about most and helping to ease the burden on your family. We can help you to create a comprehensive estate plan that fills all of your needs. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!


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