Blended Families and California Estate Administration: Important Tips
How to handle administrating estate within blended families?
In today’s society, blended families are common, and significant estate administration issues can arise after one spouse in the family dies. For example, many people are confused as to who inherits property when the decedent has children from a previous marriage. Failing to properly handle this can result in lengthy court battles.
Important steps to take:
When one becomes charged with the responsibility of administering a California estate or has an interest in an estate involving children from multiple marriages, it is important to take the following steps:
- Contact an experienced trust lawyer for guidance. Estate administration can quickly become complicated when blended families are involved.
- Obtain a copy of the will or trust.
- Determine which property is community property and which property is separate property.
Is there a will?
If there is a will, property distribution will go according to its terms. Yet, if there is no will, the general estate distribution is as follows:
- Community property goes to the surviving spouse.
- Separate property goes to the surviving spouse if there are no living children, parents, brothers, sisters, nieces, or nephews.
- One-half of the separate property goes to the surviving spouse if there is a living child or grandchild of the decedent.
- One-half of the separate property goes to the surviving spouse if there is a living parent of the decedent.
- One-third of the separate property goes to the surviving spouse if there is more than one living child or grandchild of the decedent.
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