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By: Scott Grossman on August 5th, 2016

Five Facts about Divorce and Probate Administration in California

During the process of administering an estate or trust in California, a beneficiary may be faced with the unpleasant experience of a potential or pending divorce. In these cases, he or she may be wondering whether the inheritance will factor into the divorce proceedings. A will or trust may contain specific language relating to the spouses of a beneficiary. Trusts may also have provisions that allow the trustee to withhold the distribution of property until a divorce is final. The following is a basic overview of how inheritances are treated under California law:

  1. California is a community property state, meaning everything earned during the marriage by either spouse belongs to both.
  2. An inheritance that is received during a probate administration is considered separate property. A spouse ordinarily will have no claim on this property.
  3. Property that is considered separate can change its character and become community property if the recipient is not careful. The separate property should not be intertwined with community property.
  4. Certain types of property, such as furniture, are easily kept separate. Other types of property, like cash, could easily be intermingled with the property of the marriage.
  5. Merely having the names of both spouses on the account will not automatically change its character from separate to community property. If both spouses are drawing from the account and depositing checks into the account, however, there is a higher likelihood that it could be deemed community property.

Clearly, a pending divorce may be a big concern during the estate administration process. Our video, “What Effect Does Divorce (or Legal Separation) Have on Temecula, CA Probate Estate?” provides a helpful overview of the impact of divorce during this process. To learn more about handling the distribution of property during an estate administration, contact The Grossman Law Firm today.