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By: Scott Grossman on September 14th, 2016

What Effect Does Divorce Have on a Probate Estate?

Undoubtedly, divorce has a major effect on a probate estate, whether or not the deceased person had a will.

Let’s look at a common situation in which your dad dies, and before his death he had divorced either your mom, or a second spouse.  Now that person is claiming a portion of the estate as the surviving spouse.

California law, which is what applies in Riverside County, where Temecula is located, clearly states that if there was a completed divorce, or even a decree with legal separation date, the ex-spouse, or soon to be ex-spouse loses all rights to the probate estate.

You can see how this is crucially important for children in this situation.  After divorce the kids will inherit fully 100% of the probate estate, vs sharing the estate with their parent’s former spouse.

Even in cases where the person died with a will, this law is important.  Let’s say your dad died and before his death he divorced his second spouse, but his will was never changed so it still says that he leaves his property to her.

In California, by operation of law in the case of a completed divorce, no property goes to the former spouse.

It is really important to know, though, that none of this happens automatically.  If you are a child and believe you might fall into the situation described in this video, it is very important that you get into court quickly to assert your legal rights and inform the court that there was a divorce or date of legal separation, to ensure that you will receive the full 100% of the estate you deserve.