Who Will Inherit California Real Property When There is No Will or Trust; Tip Sheet by Deed and Record

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Tip Sheet by Deed and Record explains which relative inherits real property on the death of the owner who had no will or trust. The relative who will inherit is determined by California intestacy law.

Searching for the Will

Without a will or trust, the probate laws of intestacy determine who will inherit.

This Tip Sheet by Deed and Record explains who will inherit real property if there is no will or trust. Without a will or trust the probate intestacy laws of California intervene. Intestacy law identifies who is the next of kin to inherit.

The surviving spouse is the default next of kin. If there is no surviving spouse, then the children of the deceased inherit. If there is no spouse or children, parents inherit and if no parents survive, brothers and sisters inherit. But this fairly straight forward order is complicated by California’s community property laws or the death of a person who is in a class of heirs, such as children.

The closet surviving next of kin creates a class of heirs. For example, the deceased has three children, two living and one deceased. Because there are living children, identification of heirs stops at the class of children. But deceased child’s own children, (grandchildren) become heirs and are part owners of the real property.

The other complication is the distinction between community property and separate property. California is a community property state. Community property is property acquired during the marriage. Each spouse owns one-half. The default is on death of one spouse, the other inherits and becomes the sole owner.

Separate property complicates inheritance. Separate property is acquired either prior to the marriage, by inheritance or by gift. Separate property owned by a deceased spouse does not by default go only to the surviving spouse. For example, if the deceased had children, they inherit a portion of the real property. So, both the surviving spouse and the children become owners of the property.

If the deceased did not have a will or trust for the transfer of real property, the intestacy laws of California intervene. The probate laws of intestacy identify who is the next of kin to inherit. Who is the next of kin is complicated if the real property is separate property or a next of kin has died with surviving children.

This press release was authored by Mark W. Bidwell, an attorney licensed in the state of California. Address is 4952 Warner, Suite 235, Huntington Beach, CA 92649. Phone is 714-846-2888. Email is Mark@DeedandRecord.com.

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Mark Bidwell
Timeshare Lovers
since: 05/2016
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