It is vital for all people to have a will and other estate planning documents in place prior to passing away. Unfortunately, there is a litany of reasons why people forego this documentation. Even celebrities, such as Prince, Amy Winehouse and Aretha Franklin, all passed away without wills.
It is still possible for loved ones to get assets after a loved one’s death if a will was not in place. However, it does become more difficult. It is paramount for everyone to create a detailed estate plan early on in life so that loved ones can receive some comfort during a trying time.
Assets go to whoever survives the deceased
California has intestacy laws to ensure relatives of the deceased retain assets after the passing of the loved one. The spouse and children have the greatest rights. In the event someone dies in California without a will, then the spouse will inherit all of the community property in addition to between 1/3 and 1/2 of the deceased’s separate property. Children would inherit the remaining 1/2 to 2/3 of the separate property.
In the event a couple has no children, then the spouse would inherit all probate estate. There are various other rules in place for if the deceased only has living parents, siblings and other descendants still alive.
Assets can go to other relatives if no other people are around
In the event someone dies without any living spouses, descendants, siblings and parents, then the property will pass down to the next of kin. This can include nephews, nieces, uncles, aunts and grandparents.
Although it is highly unlikely, if a person dies without any known relatives, then the probate estate will go to the state of California. Additionally, the estate could become insolvent if the person who passed away had debts that exceeded the worth of the assets.