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Overview of California's intestacy laws

One of the basic steps a Fresno, California, resident can do in term of estate planning is prepare and properly execute a will. While doing so does not guarantee that all will be well after the person dies and it comes time to distribute the person's property, it is a positive step in that direction which many people, even very wealthy people, never take.

When someone dies without a will, though, the estate, if it is of any significant, will still go through probate court, as the property still has to be distributed. However, the estate will get divided according to California's "intestacy" laws, which the state has in place to account for the fact that many times, Californians do not have wills.

Ultimately, a Fresno residents should ask an attorney any questions about how these laws would work in an actual case. However, to give an overview, if someone in California dies and has both a spouse and children, the spouse will get all "community property," which is a concept that is unique to California and a few other states. Additionally, the spouse will get a portion of the deceased person's other "separate" property, while the children will get the other portion of the "separate" property.

Things are easiest when a person dies with only a spouse and no other close relatives, as the person's spouse will then inherit all property. However, even if a person has no children, surviving parents may be legally entitled to some of the property of the estate.

While these laws are supposed to replicate how a typical person would want to distribute his or her property, in fact, every Fresno resident is going to have slightly different wishes and feelings. There is no one size fits all, which is why many experts recommend that everyone, even those of relatively modest wealth, make out a will.

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Law Office of Jeffrey B. Pape, P.C.
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