If arelative died intestate and designated their final paycheck to a sibling instead of the spouse, does sibling have any legal right to the money?

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If arelative died intestate and designated their final paycheck to a sibling instead of the spouse, does sibling have any legal right to the money?

Asked on September 6, 2011 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A designation of who should receive a final paycheck does not override the intestacy rules. In CA, which is a community property state, it appears that the salaries of the spouses are designated as community property, in which case the surviving spouse would get it all. If the check were not considered community property, then it looks like the spouse would get one half and the sibling the other half--though I think that a paycheck would indeed be considered community property.

If the decedent had wanted to make sure that certain things went to the sibling, he or she  should have had a will designating that. Non-will designations, other than the designation of a beneficiary for an insurance policy, do not appear to have any power.


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