If you die without a valid California will, you are said to have died “intestate” and your property will be distributed according to strict California statutes.
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Intestacy is the condition which occurs when a person dies without a valid will. In such a case if the dead party has property it will be distributed according to statutes, primarily by the law of descent and distribution and others dealing with marital property and community property (all going to a surviving spouse). In probate the administration of the estate of a person without a will is handled by an administrator (usually a close relative, the spouse, a close associate), or a public administrator if there is no one willing to act, since there is no executor named in a will. The administrator must petition the court to be appointed and must post a bond from an insurance company guaranteeing that it will pay the value of the assets he/she/it may steal or misuse.
Intestate succession is a legal procedure used by a California probate court decides who is entitled to share in a deceased person’s estate because the deceased person either did not leave a valid Will or Trust or did not include their entire estate in a Will or Trust.
Under intestate succession, distributions are made considering those family members who are still living and their relation to the deceased person, the decedent.
- If the decedent leaves behind a only a spouse and no children, then the spouse will receive all of the decedent’s community property interest and all of the decedent’s separate property interest.
- If the decedent leaves behind a child or grandchild in addition to a spouse, the spouse receives all the decedent’s community property interest but only one-half of decedent’s separate property interest.
- If the decedent leaves behind a parent or sibling in addition to a spouse, the spouse receives all of the decedent’s community property interest but only one-half of decedent’s separate property interest.
- If the decedent leaves behind two or more children, two or more grandchildren, or any combination thereof, in addition to a spouse, the spouse receives all of the decedent’s community property interest but only one-third of the decedent’s separate property interest.
The surviving spouse takes the decedent’s entire estate, 100%, if there are no surviving children. The decedent’s property that is not passed to the surviving spouse it is distributed in the following order:
- Equal shares to children.
- Equal shares to parents.
- Equal shares to siblings.
- Equal shares to grandparents.
- Equal shares to issues of grandparents.
- Equal shares to next-of-kin by degree of relationship.
- To the State of California.
Surviving Spouse Share
The surviving spouse receives all of decedent’s community property and part of separate property. The remaining separate property will be distributed to children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, siblings, nieces, nephews or other close relatives.
If the decedent was not married, the assets will be distributed to the next-of-kin in the order described under Intestacy Distribution. The court will ultimately decide who gets your estate and how to divide it if you die without a valid Will.