How probate works in California

On Behalf of | Nov 23, 2021 | Will and Trust Contests

In California, passing away without a will is referred to as dying intestate. Through probate, the court will divide your property among your closest relatives under the state’s succession laws. Here’s an overview of how the probate process works.

What happens when you die without a will?

If you pass without a will, the court will still distribute your estate to your beneficiaries. It does this through the probate process, which is essentially the legal transfer of property. This process cannot start automatically; someone must apply with the court to distribute your assets.

Since there is no will, you don’t have an executor who will overlook your property’s transfer or inform the court to start the probate process. One of your descendants must step up and apply for probate. If the court approves, it will distribute your estate according to the California intestate succession laws.

How does probate without a will process work?

After applying for the probate process, the intestate succession laws will come into play. If you die without children in California, your spouse will receive all the property you two shared. If you had children with your spouse, the court would first determine marital and separate property before distributing your assets.

All the marital property will go to your spouse. Then, the court will evenly distribute your separate property between your spouse and kids. Your spouse will take 50%, and then the court will evenly distribute the other half to your children.

If you have no spouse or children, the court will give your parents all of your property. If there is a surviving spouse and parents, then the court will give him or her all the community property and 50% of the separate property. The rest will go to the parents.

If you don’t want the court to determine how to distribute your property, you should consider drawing a will. Otherwise, your beneficiaries will still get assets, but it may not be divided how you wanted to give it out.