It’s hard enough losing a loved one at all, but it can become far worse if they die without having prepared a will beforehand. In these unfortunate cases, the question of redistributing their property becomes very tangled and is likely to end up in probate court. You’ll want a good law firm in Sonoma County on your side if you want to see their wishes upheld. Our Johnston | Thomas team is always here to help you through this difficult process and can answer all your questions.
It is, of course, best for people to prepare their wills well in advance. However, there are procedures for when someone dies without one.
What Happens If Your Loved One Dies in Sonoma County Without A Will
The situation is most straightforward if the deceased was married and had no other close family. In that case, as one would expect, all the property goes to the spouse, aside from any relevant fees or taxes.
In situations where the deceased was married and had children, the spouse will generally receive around 1/2 to 2/3 of the property, with the rest being split between the children. If the deceased had no children but did have siblings, the remaining property is split between the siblings instead.
After that, the line of property distribution goes to parents, nieces and nephews, grandparents, aunts and uncles, then great-aunts and -uncles, if they can be located. This may be further complicated if the deceased had children from a previous marriage who would also need to be taken into consideration.
If someone dies without any close family that can be located, the entire estate becomes the property of the state California.
Who Is Entitled to What?
At this point, you might be wondering about non-married co-habitation situations or other people who are not direct legal relatives. Simply put, the law has very few protections in place for such people. There have been many cases where even long-term cohabitants have received absolutely nothing in situations where there is no will.
You might also be wondering how, exactly, those proportions are determined and divvied up. Unless the family can work out an acceptable arrangement on their own, it goes to probate court – and that’s when you’d need a law firm in Sonoma County to protect your rights, as well as the rights of the deceased.
Johnston | Thomas Attorneys at Law
The law firm of Johnston | Thomas has years of experience in probate law. If a loved one has died without a will, contact us today for a consultation.