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By: Scott Grossman on October 30th, 2016

Understanding Spousal Share in California

After the loss of a spouse, the survivor may be left wondering what he or she will inherit from the deceased spouse’s estate. Typically, this is governed by the terms of the deceased spouse’s will or trust. When there is no will, surviving spouses receive the spousal share of the deceased’s estate in accordance with the California intestacy laws. Many people do not realize, however, that the assets inherited by a surviving spouse are affected by the community property rules in California.

Rules for Spousal Inheritance When There Is No Will

Did you lost your spouse and he or she died without having a will? The following general rules apply with regard to the assets you will inherit:

  1. Separate property and community property are treated differently when settling estates.
  2. Property that was acquired during your marriage is community property. Property that was acquired prior to the marriage is separate property.
  3. If the property was obtained through a gift or inheritance, however, it is treated as separate property regardless.
  4. As the surviving spouse, you inherit all of the community property if there are no children.
  5. With regard to the separate property, you inherit either all or a portion of the property, depending on whether your spouse has living parents, children, or siblings.

Moreover, if you are legally separated, you are not entitled to inherit your surviving spouse’s separate property. This is true even though your divorce was not legally finalized at the time that your spouse passed away.

Understanding the community property and intestacy laws in California is not easy when you have no experience in this field. Fortunately, we are here to provide guidance.

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