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What happens when a person dies without a will in California?

On Behalf of | Nov 28, 2016 | Estate Planning |

A person who dies without having a will is said to die intestate, which opens up a battle for the belongings of the decedent. California laws cover what is to happen to the person’s estate when this situation occurs. Understanding how the succession laws impact the estate is something that can help anyone who has a loved one who passed away without a will.

How are assets classified?

Assets in these cases are classified as community property or separate property. Community property is any property that was obtained during a marriage. Separate property is any property that the decedent acquired before the marriage or in certain other instances. If a person wasn’t married when he or she passed away, one’s property is considered separate property.

How are the types of property passed down?

If the decedent was married, all of the community property will become the property of the surviving spouse. Property that was separate property, including property that was amassed by a single person, is distributed according to the order of succession in the state’s probate laws.

If the single person had children, the children would each get an equal share of the property. A married person’s separate property would be divided between the surviving spouse and children with the spouse getting either half or one-third of the property. The children would then divide the remaining separate property.

A married decedent without children and whose parents are still living would have one’s separate property divided between the spouse and the decedent’s surviving parents. If the person’s parents aren’t alive but he or she has siblings, the siblings would get the portion of the decedent’s estate that would have passed down to his or her parents.

What happens if the person was single and didn’t have children, siblings, or surviving parents?

The person’s assets would pass down to other relatives. These could include nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts, uncles, and siblings of a spouse who has already passed away. If the person didn’t have any surviving relatives at all, the person’s estate would become the property of California.

What should I do if my family member died without a will?

The first thing you should do is to learn about how these laws will impact the estate. Once you have this information, you can find out what steps you need to take to get the estate settled.