California is one the best places to die because the state has no estate or inheritance taxes. If a person passes away with a will, the distribution of the estate is usually fairly straightforward. However, if a person dies without a will, known as dying intestate, the inheritance rights and laws governing inheritance are incredibly important to understand. If you have a parent or spouse who passed away without an estate plan in place, it is incredibly important that you speak with an attorney today.
California Community and Separate Property
California is a community property state, which means that all marital property is owned jointly by the spouses. Separate property is what each spouse brought with them to the marriage and did not intermingle with community property during the course of the marriage. Intestate inheritance separates the estate into community and separate property when determining who inherits what from an intestate estate.
Inheritance Rights of Spouses
Intestate inheritance is all dependent on whom the person’s closest relatives were at the time of death. Inheritance only applies to property that would have passed through the will. Assets with designated beneficiaries or a surviving co-owner will automatically transfer to that person. Examples of property not included in the inheritance rights of intestate succession include life insurance, property in a living trust, transfer-on-death accounts, or property held in joint tenancy or with the right to survivorship.
If the person dies with a spouse and no other close relatives, the spouse inherits everything. If there is a spouse and a child or grandchild, the spouse inherits all of the community property and one-half of the separate property. If there is a spouse and multiple children, the spouse inherits all of the community property and one-third of the separate property. The same applies if there is a spouse and two or more grandchildren from a deceased child or a spouse with one child and one or more grandchildren from a deceased child. If there is a spouse and parents, the spouse inherits all of the community property and one-half of the separate property. The same applies to having a spouse and siblings but no surviving parents or children.
Inheritance Rights of Children
In California, under intestate succession, if the person who dies has children and no spouse, the children inherit everything, both community and separate property. If there is a child and a spouse, the child inherits one-half of the separate property, and for two or more children they will inherit two-thirds of the separate property. In situations where there is a child, spouse, and one or more grandchildren from a deceased child, the child will inherit two-thirds of the separate property to split with the grandchildren.
Talk to a Divorce Attorney Today
To schedule a consultation regarding any questions about family law in California, contact one of the family law attorneys at Kearney | Baker today at 626-768-2945.