Can I prevent next of kin from inheriting estate?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can I prevent next of kin from inheriting estate?

My sister took her own life, she was only 25 and did not have a Will. My parents are the legal next of kin for everything she left behind, 401k, the home she owned. They have not had a relation ship with sister and I for years, her and I have always been very close. My parents are drug addicts and abandoned us at a young age. Is there anything I can do to

prevent them from getting what my sister worked so hard for? My sister hated our mother for what she put us though and I know she wouldn’t want her to benefit from this tragedy. My father was always there for us and has agreed that my sister would want me to handle everything. What can I do to stop my mother from benefiting from this?

Asked on August 10, 2018 under Estate Planning, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, when there is no will, a person's estate (the money and assets they leave behind) must be distributed according the rules for "intestate succession" (the laws for who gets what when there is no will). Those rules do not care about the quality of the relationship or whether the people who inherit deserve to inherit; all that matters is the degree of relationship. In your state (CA), if someone passes away without a surviving spouse or children, but has surving parents, her parents inherit *everything* even if there is also a surving spouse. There is no way around this.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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