When a person dies without a will or trust, their property passed to family members under California intestacy law.
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California Intestacy Distribution
California intestacy distribution will be used to determine who will inherit and what amounts of the estate they will receive when a person dies and does not leave a will or trust to dispose of their estate.
If a California resident dies without a will or trust, they die “intestate” and the laws for California intestacy distribution will be used to determine who will inherit and what amounts of the estate they will receive. The division of the estate, and the property a surviving spouse receives, depends upon the number of family members who survive death.
Decedent Not Married
California intestacy distribution is as follows:
- The decedent’s children divide equally the estate if they are in the same generation.
- If the decedent does not have any children or other issue (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.) living, the estate goes to the decedent’s parents.
- If there are no parents living, the estate is distributed to the “issue of the parents” (decedent’s brothers or sisters). If there are deceased brothers and sisters, and they had issues, the issues will inherit the share of the estate that the deceased brother or sister would have inherited.
- If there are no brothers or sisters, the decedent’s grandparents will inherit the estate.
- If there are no living grandparents, then the “issue of the grandparents” will inherit the estate (decedent’s aunts and uncles). If there are no aunts and uncles, then decedent’s cousins will divide the estate.
Decedent Married Without Children
California intestacy distribution provides that the surviving spouse will receive all community and quasi-community property and all of the decedent’s separate property. The surviving spouse will inherit all of decedent’s estate.
Married with Children
California intestacy distribution provided that if you are married and have children, or the decedent has a surviving parent, brother, sister, brother or sister. The surviving spouse will receive all community and quasi-community property and either one-half or one-third of Decedent’s separate property (depending on the number of issues).
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