Who Gets What?
Who inherits when someone dies without a will in California? Many people are under the impression that the State is first in line to receive our assets but actually state law sets forth a long list of people who will inherit before the State gets their sticky hands in our pie.
For most people, their primary asset is their home. When someone dies without a will, there are different rules that govern the distribution of real property versus other types of property such as cash or brokerage accounts. For illustrative purposes, we will restrict our discussion to distribution of real property.
We will assume your spouse died less than 15 years before you, neither of you had any children, both your parents and your spouse’s parents are deceased, neither you nor your spouse had any siblings, all of the uncles and aunts on both sides are deceased as are the first cousins on both sides – voila! – you and your spouse’s first cousins once removed would inherit your real property. Do you even know the names of your first cousins once removed, let alone your spouse’s? Do you want someone you don’t know to inherit your most valuable asset?
This scenario may be avoided by making your wishes known in a will or a trust. If you don’t have any family or friends that you would like to name as your beneficiaries, you may choose to name a charitable institution to receive your assets. Most of us have a cause that is near and dear to our hearts, whether it is children, animals, libraries, churches, hospitals, the arts, nature, or any of a number of other possibilities. Your bequest may continue to make a positive impact in people’s lives long after you are gone.
Call an estate planning attorney today and make your wishes known!
Who Gets What?