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Rights of a Surviving Spouse in California

Feb 25, 2021 | California

In California, when a spouse dies, the surviving spouse generally has the right to transfer assets and property in their name but there are exceptions. First, the surviving spouse would need a certified copy of your spouse’s death certificate and certificates of marriage to show that you married the deceased.

Does a Surviving Spouse Automatically Inherit Everything in California?

California is a community property state, as such upon the death of a spouse, the surviving spouse is entitled to one-half of the community property. Pursuant to California Family Code section 760, community property is defined as “all property, real or personal, wherever situated, acquired by a married person during the marriage while domiciled in the state.” At the end of a divorce, community property is generally split 50/50.

What Happens If My Spouse Dies Without a Will or Trust in California?

In California, if a spouse dies intestate, meaning there is no will or trust, then surviving spouses may inherit half of the community property, as well as, one-half of the deceased spouse’s separate property.

Can You Disinherit a Spouse in California?

In California you generally cannot disinherit a spouse unless, your spouse waived such rights to inherit from you in a valid, signed agreement, known as a “pre-marital agreement”.

California Probate Attorney

For more information regarding the rights of a surviving spouse or probate in California, we invite you to contact a California probate attorney at KAASS LAW today at 310-933-5171.