Relative died without a will, what will the spouse and children get?

Relative died without a will, what will the spouse and children get?

Asked on January 6, 2018 under Estate Planning, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

To oversimplify somewhat: California is a "community property" state--everything acquired during marriage (earned by the spouses, bought by the spouses, the result of a family business, etc.), with a few exceptions, is "community property," or jointly owned by the spouses. The exception is anything inherited during marriage or given as a gift to only one spouse during marriage--that belongs only to the person who received it. That, plus anything that person owned pre-marriage, is his or her "separate property." When someone passes away and leaves a spouse and children, the spouse gets all the community property and either 1/2 or 1/3 the separate property (1/2 if there is one child; 1/3 more than one). The children will inherit either 1/2 (one child) the separate property or 2/3 (more than one child) of it.

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