A person dies intestate in California if they pass away without a will or estate plan. When this happens, inheritance rights kick in and the probate court distributes the estate according to the state’s intestate inheritance laws. In certain situations, grandchildren and siblings may inherit under intestate succession. If you believe that you may have inheritance rights as a grandchild or sibling of a person who passed away, it is important that you speak with an experienced probate attorney as soon as possible to protect your claim.
Community and Separate Property in California
Intestate inheritance divides the property of an estate by whether it is community or separate property. Community property is any property acquired during the course of a marriage or partnership in California. Separate property is anything owned prior to a marriage as well as any gifts or inheritance for one spouse during the course of the marriage. Separate property must also not be co-mingled with community property during a marriage or else it may become community property.
Inheritance Rights of Grandchildren
Intestate inheritance only applies to the property that would normally pass through a will. This excludes certain types of property that have a designated beneficiary or co-owner. Examples of property not included in intestate inheritance include anything in a living trust, life insurance policies, funds in an IRA, 401(k), or other retirement account, securities held in a transfer-on-death account, payable-on-death bank accounts, vehicles held with a transfer-on-death registration, and any property held in joint tenancy as well as any property held with a right to survivorship in California.
In certain situations of intestate succession, grandchildren may inherit the property of their grandparent. If a person dies with a spouse and one grandchild, the grandchild inherits one-half of the separate property. If there is a spouse, one child, and grandchildren from a deceased child, the grandchildren inherit two-thirds of the separate property to split with the child. In situations in which there is a spouse and two or more grandchildren, the grandchildren inherit two-thirds of the separate property to split amongst themselves.
Inheritance Rights of Siblings
Intestate inheritance is determined by who the deceased’s closest family members were at the time of death. Depending on the testator’s family, siblings may inherit part of the estate under intestate succession rights. When a person dies intestate with no spouse, children, or parents, the siblings will inherit everything, both community and separate property in the estate. If there is a spouse and siblings but no parents or children, the siblings inherit one-half of the separate property of the estate to split between them.
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.