What Happens if I Die Intestate, without a will?

die intestate

If you die intestate, it means that you die without a will. If you live in California, you will want to pay attention because your heirs will be dealing with the laws of intestate succession in California. Before I go any further, I have to say that this is not the preferred way of dying, not by a long shot. When you die intestate, you have no say where your assets are distributed upon your death. You are at the mercy of California law. So, “What could you be at the mercy of?,”you ask.

What are the laws if I die intestate in California?

  1. Spouse: If you have a spouse your community property share (property you acquired during the marriage that is not specifically designated separate property), will go, directly to your spouse. Any separate property (property you acquired before the marriage or through gift or bequest) will go to your surviving spouse, if you have no children. If you have children, your spouse will get an equal share with each child. If you are single your property goes to,
  2. Children: Your children will inherit equal portions of your estate. If you do not have a spouse, have no children, and die intestate, your property then goes to,
  3. Parents: Your surviving parents will inherit equal portions of your estate. If you do not have a spouse, have no children, and have no parents, your property then goes to,
  4. Siblings: Your siblings, for good or ill, will receive equally of your inheritance. If you have no spouse, never had children, have no surviving parents or siblings, and die intestate, your property then goes to,
  5. Grandparents: If, by chance, you do not have a spouse, a child, parents, or siblings, your grandparents will inherit.

If you are asking yourself, “Do I need a will?”, check out our blog on that topic, here. Let me give you a little hint, the answer is yes. If you die intestate you have no choice as to where your property goes and you may lose money when the state gets involved. Don’t delay, prepare your will today.

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