Has your family recently experienced the loss of a loved one? In addition to the trauma brought by death, family members can be overwhelmed by the belongings and financial assets of the previous owner, wondering how they should be distributed. Piecing together the person’s intentions for heirs, dealing with sibling rivalries and facing threats of court battles are only a few of the issues that arise when someone close passes away.

Thankfully, California law offers legal solutions to these complex situations of a person’s death without a will. You are not left alone to protect the personal wishes of your loved one while fighting against the family, tearing apart relationships and adding to the pain of loss. The Legacy Lawyers are here to present the ways California law dictates property transfer after someone passes away without a will so you can be at ease.

Property Transferred through Intestate Succession Laws

Intestates (those who die without a will) who hold property after their deaths fall under laws dictated by the state of California that lay out specifically how and to whom these assets are given. Their property is split depending upon if items have the ability to be transferred through a will while the rest fall into the hands of rightful beneficiares.

For example, life insurance proceeds, funds in retirement accounts, property that was transferred to a living trust and other certain financial assets could not be selected by the family to whom they chose. Beneficiaries were already signed and set-in-stone, which means those interested parties would receive their deserved funds. However, real property (land and assets a part of land) and personal property (cars, jewelry, furniture, etc.) do not have beneficiaries laid out and would be distributed to surviving family members such as siblings, cousins, children, etc.

Separate and Community Property

If the intestate who passed away was married, California law orders that property is divided into two categories for correct ownership: separate and community property. Property that was received by one spouse during the duration of the marriage is known as separate property, which will transfer to the other partner only if there are no surviving heirs. If children or siblings are still alive in the family line, they will be first to inherit separate property. In contrast, community properties are assets that are co-owned by a married couple and will be
transferred solely to the remaining partner.

Vehicles are a common community property that both spouses will share ownership in, which would defer to the partner left alive after one dies. In addition, the husband may own a wardrobe passed down his family line that his wife has no rights to. This would be considered separate property and could be passed down to any of his kids if they accepted the gift. Since there is no will involved, these measures must be established by the state of California to preserve family peace and make the grieving process less challenging.

We are Ready for Your Consultation

At The Legacy Lawyers, we take our initial consultations very seriously, especially in the case of your loved one leaving without a will. They are our way to get to know you on a personal level as well as assess the complexities of your unique situation. No two family members ever pass away the same and the ramifications of those deaths have hundreds of details involved. Our office has professional experience handling difficult cases of property transfer with intestates and are ready to answer any questions you have.

If you would like to set up a consultation with one of our attorneys, the best number to reach us at is 800.840.1998 or you can schedule through our online contact form.