If you do not have a will or a trust, you are leaving it to state law to determine who your legal heirs are. Dying without a will or trust, is called dying “intestate”. Heirs are determined by succession statutes that are already in place. It is important to consult with an Estate Planning and Probate attorney regarding your individual situation. Let’s look at two situations.
Married and Spouse Has No Living Relatives- Legal Heirs in California
With California being a community property state, this is reflected in the California succession statues. The surviving spouse receives all of the community property and quasi-community property owned by both spouses. If the deceased spouse has no other immediate family members, the surviving spouse inherits all of the separate or personal property of the deceased spouse’s estate. It’s important to meet with an Estate Planning Attorney to determine who your family members are.
Married and Spouse Has Living Relatives- Legal Heirs in California
If your spouse dies and has a surviving relative, namely surviving:
- descendants of a deceased brother or sister
your property is distributed among your surviving spouse and heirs. The amounts are determined by who has survived the spouse that has passed away. It is important to remember that if you die intestate or without a will or a trust, it is up to the judge to determine who are the rightful heirs to your estate. The judges determine this by using California succession statues. It is important to remember that the judges are to follow these statutes and don’t look at whether the surviving heirs got along well with each other. A surviving heir, is a surviving heir even if they have not spoken in twenty years or if they are irresponsible. Create a will and a trust with an experienced Estate Planning Attorney to control who receives your assets.
At The Swenson Law Firm, we listen to our clients’ desires and goals and create their Estate Plan to reflect those desires and goals. Contact our office to schedule a free estate planning consultation.