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By: Scott Grossman on September 15th, 2016

Decedent leaving No Will is said to have Died Intestate

Dying with no will often means your survivors could face a complicated, costly, and frustrating process after your death. Had there been a will or other estate planning tool, survivors could have avoided or lowered taxes on their inheritance.

What happens when a deceased person left no will in California?

When a person dies intestate, the California probate court steps in to distribute the estate according to California’s laws. The probate court first deducts the funeral expenses and any unpaid medical bills from the estate and then deducts taxes, family allowance expenses, and other debts owed. The way the balance is distributed depends on the family situation:

  • Married without children – The spouse gets all the decedent’s community property and also receives all of the separate property if the decedent is not survived by children, parents, siblings, or children of a deceased brother or sister.
  • Married with children – The community property usually goes to the surviving spouse. If the decedent has only one child, the surviving spouse also receives one-half of the separate property. While the other half is allocated to the child. If there are more children than one, the surviving spouse receives one-third of the separate property while the other two-thirds are split among the children.

What is the order of distribution when there is no surviving spouse?

  1. Decedent’s children
  2. Decedent descendants
  3. Decedent’s surviving parents
  4. Issue of decedent’s parent(s)
  5. Issue of decedent’s grandparent(s)
  6. Issue of a predeceased spouse (for personal property, the former spouse cannot predecease the decedent by more than 5 years, while for real property the time limit is 15 years.)
  7. Decedent’s next of kin

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