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Long-term Planning For Orange County
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Understanding probate when there is no will

Some California residents may not consider what will happen to their belongings if they die without a will. These assets are usually still given to a person's family members but it generally becomes the state's job to distribute these assets.

FindLaw says that if people do not have a will, their estate is intestate. A person's estate typically still goes through probate after he or she dies. Because there is no will to name an executive, the state generally picks a person to oversee the probate process and act as the executive. This person usually makes sure all of the taxes and debts are paid and assembles the assets. Sometimes an estate can be intestate even if there is a will, as a probate court may sometimes rule that the will is not valid.

Some people may think that if they die without a will, the state will receive all of the assets. According to the State Bar of California, this only happens if a person has no living family members. Most of the time, a person's family members can still receive assets if there is no will. A person's individual belongings usually go to his or her spouse, and this spouse also typically receives any assets that are considered community property. The remaining property is generally allotted to surviving siblings, children and grandchildren. Sometimes a person's in-laws may inherit assets if his or her spouse is already deceased.

Some people may want their friends or certain charities to receive some of their assets. If they do not have a will, though, the state typically does not distribute assets to these people and organizations. 

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