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Wills & Trusts FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:

What Happens to My Property if I Die without A Will? how Will My Money and Property Be Apportioned?

A:

Each state has “intestate succession” statutes that predetermine who will receive your property at death if you die without a will. Under these laws (which vary from state to state), without a will, your property will pass to your surviving spouse and other blood heirs. If you want to leave some of your property to a friend or to a charitable organization, you must execute a will and designate the bequest specifically.

Q:

What if I Die without A Will and My Spouse and Children Survive Me? how Will My Money and Property Be Apportioned Under the Law?

A:

Here is what most states do with your money and property if you die without a will:

If your spouse and children survive you, your estate will be divided among them, with your spouse receiving a full one half of your estate and your surviving children will receive the other half, which gets equally divided among them.

Most spouses that have small or modest estates prefer to leave all or substantially all of their money and property to their surviving spouse. In this regard, most state intestate succession laws do not carry out the intent of the deceased. A will is needed. In community property states, the law treats widows and widowers more generously by giving them all of the community property accumulated during the marriage and dividing only separate property between the surviving spouse and children. California is a community property state.

Keep in mind that when we refer to a “surviving spouse,” we do not mean a former spouse. In order to inherit a part or all of your estate as a spouse under state laws, your spouse must be married to you at the time of your death.

Q:

What if I Die without A Will, I Have No Surviving Spouse, but I Do Have Children and Grandchildren, how Will My Money and Property Be Apportioned?

A:

If only your children and grandchildren survive you and there is no surviving spouse, your estate according to most intestate succession laws will be divided equally among your children.

Q:

What About Parents, Siblings, and Other Relatives?

A:

If you are survived by neither your spouse, children nor grandchildren, your estate will generally pass to your parents, if they are alive, and, if not, your property will pass to your siblings. If some or all of your siblings have died before you, their children – your nephews or nieces – will take the share of their deceased parent. If the closest relatives who survive you are aunts and uncles, they or their children – your cousins – will succeed to your estate.

Q:

What if I Die without A Will and Have neither Family nor Relatives?

A:

If you have no family or relatives that survive you, all of your money and property will go (escheat) to the state. This means the State will receive whatever money, personal and real property belonged to you effective upon your death. If you are fortunate, you might have a public road named after you.