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With divorced parents, what happens in probate?

On Behalf of | Jul 24, 2023 | Probate |

In previous blog posts, we have discussed the complexities that can arise in probate matters for blended families. Being a child of divorced parents, you may already know just how complex matters in your life can become in these cases.

When one parent passes away, you not only feel overwhelming grief but worry. What happens now?

How will probate work?

The administration of a parent’s estate depends heavily on whether:

  • There is a will: If the parent who passed away had a will, then you or the named executor will follow the instructions and guidelines to administer the estate included within the will, given that the probate court validates the will.
  • There is no will: Without a will, your parent’s California estate is subject to intestate succession rules. Under these rules, a child could inherit everything if there is no spouse and no deceased children leaving issue. Or, if your parent did remarry, then the estate is divided between the child or children and the new spouse.

A valid will is helpful, but conflict may still arise.

Important Note: If the parent who passed away did not update their beneficiary designations or explicitly address changes in a divorce settlement, then the surviving ex-spouse could potentially have a claim to assets in the estate. This could create additional complications between the ex-spouse, the widow, and the decedent’s children.

That doesn’t factor in the emotions

The documents and legal procedure may be fairly straightforward – especially if your parent had an estate plan. However, it is often the emotional aspects that are the most complex. As a child of divorced parents, you may feel caught in the middle between your other parent and the widow of your deceased parent. This stress could compound if you have other siblings or family members.