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When someone dies without leaving a will, this is known as dying intestate. And for those left behind, having to deal with an intestate estate can be confusing and stressful. Here is how an estate is settled without a will:

Someone – usually a person with interest in the estate – has to file a petition with the probate court to be named administrator of the estate.

California intestacy laws apply if there is no will, or if a will is found to be invalid. Who gets what portion of the estate depends on the relationship to the deceased. In California, intestate succession is determined as follows:


There are other rules that govern intestate succession as well, including:

Half-relatives – half-siblings are treated as full blood siblings.

Survivorship rule – to inherit, a person must outlive a decedent by 120 hours.

Posthumous relatives – relatives that were conceived before the decedent’s death but born after are treated the same as relatives who were alive at the time of the decedent’s death.

As you can see, things can get complicated quickly depending on the number of relatives the decedent had and their relation to him or her. Those responsible for administering an intestate estate should seek the counsel of a qualified Irvine probate attorney, who can help you navigate the complicated California intestate probate process.

The Flanigan Law Group provides Southern California residents with personal attention for estate planning, administration and litigation legal services. When disputes between families, arise, they are very successful in resolving legal estate issues quickly and efficiently while preserving financial and emotional resources. Contact the Estate Planning Lawyers at the Flanigan Law Group at 949-450-0042.