Intestate succession is the legal process through which a person’s end-of-life estate passes if they die without a will or other applicable estate plan. It focuses on creating beneficiaries out of closely related individuals and moves out to more distant relatives of the decedent if necessary. This post will introduce some important considerations that can impact how and to whom an estate may pass if the person did not have a will in place.
Was the individual married?
One important consideration when dealing with intestate succession is the marital status of the deceased. California is a community property state, and therefore if a person died while married, their spouse would be entitled to some of the deceased person’s share of the community property. The spouse may also have claims to some of the quasi-community property held by the decedent.
Did the person have children?
After their spouse, the next set of potential beneficiaries in intestate succession is the children or grandchildren of the deceased. Parents, siblings, and descendants of siblings’ kids come next, and the laws of intestate succession move up and down the family history of the deceased until the estate is distributed.
Why may intestate succession be problematic?
Though intestate succession provides a framework for estate distribution in the absence of a will, it is not perfect. It does not capture the desires and wishes of the deceased, and it may result in the benefiting of family members who the deceased did not want to receive any estate proceeds. To avoid these and other shortfalls associated with intestate succession, Californians can find a skilled estate planning attorney to help them create their own estate plans.