Los Angeles Estate Planning Attorney | Law Office of Philip J. Hoskins


When a person dies without having left a will or having transferred property to a living trust, their property is governed by a set of laws collectively referred to as intestacy (literally, without a testate). Each state has a different set of such rules.   Below is a summary of the provisions of California law.  In effect, the state legislature has written a will for you.

Remember, this is a summary and specific situations require specific research for accuracy.

If Surviving Spouse

Community Property and Quasi-community property All to spouse
Separate Property All to spouse if there is no surviving children, parent, brother, sister, or children of deceased brother or sister
One-half to spouse if: Deceased left one child or issue of one deceased child
Decedent leaves no child but parent or parents or their children (brothers or sisters) or their children
One-third to spouse if: Decedent leaves more than one child
Where decedent leaves one child and the issue of one or more deceased children
Where decedent leaves issue of two or more deceased children

No Surviving Spouse (or portion not going to Surviving spouse above)

In order of preference

If children All to issue of decedent equally if of same degree of kinship
If no children To decedent's parents equally, or, if none, see below
To the issue of parents or either of them, equally if all of the same degree of kinship, or, if none, see below
To decedent's grandparents equally, or, if deceased, to their issue equally if all the same degree of kinship, or, if none, see below
To the issue of a predeceased spouse, equally if all the same degree of kinship, or, if none, see below
To the next of kin in equal degree, but where there are two or more collateral kindred in equal degree who claim through different ancestors, those who claim through the nearest ancestor are preferred to those claiming through an ancestor more remote. If none, as below
To the parents of a predeceased spouse equally, or if none, to the issue of such parents equally if all the same degree of kinship.
Note: Persons of the same generation or equal degree of kinship divide the property into equal shares. Those who claim through a deceased heir, share the share of the deceased heir equally.
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