When people in California die without a will, their children have a legal basis for declaring themselves as heirs to estates. Gaining access to those assets, however, might entail the conscious efforts of people to support a minor who must assert a claim by petitioning a court.
The real-life example of a 14-year-old girl illustrates the process and some of the difficulties that could arise. Cared for by her grandmother, the girl was not the benefit of a formal support order although her father sometimes sent money. Upon his death, the grandmother learned that he owned property but his two adult children intended to prevent the girl from accessing his estate. They refused to share the deceased father’s Social Security number. To overcome the interference from the other siblings, the grandmother should obtain legal representation. An attorney could prepare the court petition to make the system aware of the third child. The grandmother could nominate herself or others to serve as an adult administrator for the minor. If the deceased father’s name was on the deeds of property, then a probate court will review the assets and eventually distribute funds among the legitimate heirs.
As for the Social Security number, the grandmother might obtain it through online tools. The number would enable her to apply on behalf of the girl for death benefits. As a minor child, the system entitles her to payments until she reaches adult age.
A person concerned about the possibility of inheritance theft could reach out to an attorney for help. An attorney could oversee filings with a probate court or prepare litigation if an estate administrator is misusing funds.