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On inheritance, and why it isn't as automatic as it seems

When it comes to inheritance, most people think that they will get what they deserve and that the process is simple. "I was the grantor's son/spouse/relative, therefore I'll get what I'm supposed to get," or so the thought process goes. However, there are very specific laws and guidelines for dealing with inheritance and it is important for everyone to realize where they stand when an estate is executed and administered.

If your spouse passed away and left you inheritance, your stake in the assets will depend if you state is a community property state or not. Here in California, community property applies, meaning you would have a 50 percent share of any asset acquired during the marriage that was non-exempt (gifts are an example of an asset that is exempt from community property laws).

Now, if you were divorced and your former spouse passes away, then things can get complicated. Depending on the situation, your inheritance may not be what you think it should be. Talk to an attorney if you are dealing with this, or if you are considering mounting a legal challenge to a will.

For children of the deceased person, there is no guaranteed right to property or assets if the parent passes away. However, a will corrects this issue, and even in the event of an unintended omission in the will, state laws usually allow for a child to get his or her inheritance. But without a will, that can be very difficult to achieve.

Source: FindLaw, "Inheritance Law and Your Rights," Accessed July 6, 2016

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