What Happens When Someone Dies Without A Will In California?

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What Happens When Someone Dies Without A Will In California?

Did you know that most Americans do not have a will? Everyone knows they will need one eventually, but about 60 percent of people have never drafted one.

Maybe you are not all that surprised; you might even be one of those six out of 10 people without a will. You just keep putting it off. Do you know what happens when someone passes away without a will in California?


With no will, your estate is simply subject to California’s intestate probate process. This potentially long and complex process essentially allows California’s laws to decide how much of your estate goes to your heirs and who has a right to that property. Since you never made your own wishes known, the government decides for you, and this may result in much turmoil within your family.

What If You Have No Children?

If you are married but you do not have any children, then your estate passes to your spouse, assuming he or she survives you. Some documents, such as life insurance policies, allow you to name beneficiaries, and they pay out as directed.

What If You Do Have Children?

If you do have children, your estate then gets divided between your spouse and your children. If you have one child, for instance, your spouse may get half and your child may get the other half.

What Are The Problems With Probate?

There are many problems with going through probate without a will. As noted, it can take time. You also have made no provisions to reduce the taxes on your estate, so this can get very expensive for large estates.

On top of that, there is no guarantee that the government will actually divide your assets as you wish. The government cares far less about specifics and sentimental value. If you have a loved one who needs special care, you may need to fine-tune your estate plan to account for these factors.

Drafting A Will

At the CC LawGroup, A Professional Corporation, we have spent more than two decades helping those in the East Bay and Tri Valley areas draft wills and make estate plans that actually reflect their wishes.

Our attorneys in Newark are fluent in Korean and work with you on any budget. We help you explore a wide range of options, from wills to trusts to medical directives. If you want to find out more about how an estate planning lawyer can help you avoid probate and keep the government from deciding what to do with your estate, contact us online or give us a call at 510-402-1579.