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Immigration status and inheritance

A married person in California may create an estate plan that transfers all or most of their assets to their surviving spouse. If a deceased person's surviving spouse is an undocumented immigrant, the estate plan can still function the same way. Undocumented immigrants in the United States can own real estate and other assets. In fact, 35 percent of undocumented or unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. own homes.

Although an undocumented immigrant may inherit assets from a decedent, it may still be wise for that individual to apply for residency status since not having a social security number can make the process more difficult. If a property is worth more than $100,000 and there is no will, then relatives of the decedent could also inherit a portion of the estate by petitioning a county court. A creditor could force a property out of the decedent's name in some cases, but the spouse of a decedent would gain most of the proceeds even if that individual is undocumented.

In some cases, an undocumented immigrant can also apply for a mortgage. Although some loan applications require a borrower to input their social security number as a form of identification, some organizations allow the borrower to use their individual taxpayer number instead.

Every family has different circumstances that bring up unique estate planning questions. An estate planning attorney may be able to evaluate an individual's family and financial circumstances and help the individual to create a comprehensive estate plan. If a person wants to have more control over how assets are dispersed after they pass, an attorney may help them to create a trust.

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