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By: Scott Grossman on August 5th, 2016

No Will No Spouse: Who Inherits Property in an Estate Administration

Administering the estate of an individual who died with no will no spouse can be complex. It is important to ensure that the correct individuals receive the property of the estate in order to prevent costly litigation. Fortunately, an experienced California estate administration attorney can guide you through this process.

Individuals who pass away leaving a spouse but without leaving a will ultimately let the state laws decide who should receive their property. These provisions are referred to as the California intestacy statute. The law dictates the order of priority for who should receive the estate property. The list in order of priority is generally as follows:

  • The children of the decedent
  • The grandchildren of the decedent
  • The parents of the decedent
  • The siblings of the parents
  • The grandparents of the decedent
  • The uncles and aunts of the decedent
  • The cousins of the decedent
  • More distant cousins of the decedent

While the list may appear logical and fair, it often does not match exactly with the decedent’s wishes. Without a validly executed will, however, the estate administrator will have to be guided by the laws of the state of California for determining who should receive what, as well as in what amount.  He or she generally cannot argue that the decedent would have intended for a different individual to receive the trust property under the statute.


If you are ready to start your case, then please give us a call or fill out our Get Help Now form. A comprehensive overview of California Probate is available here. Should you have additional questions about trust litigation, you will find plenty of useful information in our Learning Center.