Hi everybody! Miranda Dressler here, associate attorney, with the Law Offices of Bridget Mackay in Petaluma, California. And we practice in estate planning, administration and elder law. And today, I’m going to talk to you about who inherits your assets if you die without a written estate plan.
And the answer to that question is laid out really in the probate code and it’s referred to as the laws of intestate succession. And the answer to that question really depends on a few factors. For example, if you pass away and you’re married there’s going to be a distinction made between what of your assets are considered to be separate property and what of your assets are considered to be community property.
If you pass away and you are married your spouse will inherit all of your joint community property. However, there might be a different answer as to any property of yours that’s considered to be separate property. If you pass away and you are married and you leave a child, then your spouse will actually inherit a half of your separate property and your child will inherit half of your separate property.
If you are married but don’t have any children but have a surviving parent, sibling or even niece or nephew from a deceased sibling. Then again, your spouse will inherit half of your separate property and one of those other relatives will inherit the other half.
If you pass away and you are married, and you have more than one child your spouse will actually only inherit a third of your separate property and your children will inherit the other two thirds. That is the scenario that will happen if you are married when you pass away.
If you are not married when you pass away who inherits from you will just depend on who, what relatives that you have living at the time and it’s in a certain order. So, if you have children that are living, your children will inherit from you. If you do not have any children, it will be your parents. If you don’t have living parents, it will be your siblings in kind of so on and so forth.
So, you know, really the best way to avoid all of this happening and to decide for yourself who you want to inherit from you when you pass away instead of having, really the state decide for you, is to make your own written estate plan that really lays out clearly what your wishes are.
If you have any questions about this topic or any other estate planning topic, please visit an experienced estate planning attorney in your area. Thank you.