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Distribution of Assets

Serving Sacramento, Monterey, San Joaquin & Other Northern California Counties

One of the main purposes of estate planning is to have control over how your assets are distributed when you pass away. Without establishing an estate plan by means of a will and/or a trust, your hard-earned assets are distributed according to California's intestate succession laws. Such laws go into effect when a person dies without a will.

How your property is distributed when you die will rely on a number of factors such as whether or not you created a will or a trust, if you are married, and if you have any surviving children, parents, or siblings. Below is a brief outline of asset distribution in California.

If you need help deciding the best way to distribute your assets, reach out to estate planning lawyers at The Law Offices of Jack S. Johal. What is Estate Planning and Do I Need It?

How Are Assets Distributed With a Will?

If you die with a will, your property will go through the court-supervised process of probate. With probate proceedings, an executor is named in the will to pay all debts, taxes, and claims against the estate. Once these are paid the executor will distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries named in the will. Only those assets in the decedent's name will pass through the will, those held in joint tenancy or in a trust will pass outside of probate.

Distribution of assets after death may take a few months, depending on the state but in the state of California, it can take anywhere from 6 to 12months.

What Are "Non-Probate" Assets?

Non-probate assets are those that do not pass through a will.

Such non-probate assets include:

  • Joint property with right of survivorship
  • Bank accounts with payable-on-death designations
  • Life insurance policies with beneficiary designations
  • Retirement accounts with beneficiary designations
  • Property held in a trust

Since non-probate assets pass automatically to a survivor or a beneficiary, they are not subject to probate proceedings.

What Happens to Trust Assets?

Property held in a trust, or trust assets, are passed automatically to the beneficiaries when the settlor (trust maker) dies; therefore, avoiding the need for probate.

What Happens if I Die Without a Will?

If there is no will, if the decedent was a resident of California and died without a will, California's laws will determine who gets the decedent's personal property and real property located within California. If the decedent owned property in another state, that state's laws will determine how property is distributed.

Any property that was not effectively disposed of in a will passes to the decedent's heirs as prescribed in Section 6400-6414 of the Probate Code. For example, if the decedent left behind a surviving spouse but no parents, siblings or children, the spouse would inherit everything.

If the decedent left behind a spouse and children, the spouse would inherit all of the decedent's community property and 1/2 or 1/3 of the separate property and the children would inherit 1/2 or 1/3 of the separate property. If the decedent died with parents but no spouse or children, the parents would inherit everything.

Our Lawyer Can Help You Distribute Assets

Searching for an attorney to help you arrange for the distribution of your assets in Sacramento? To learn more about the distribution of assets and how you can arrange your assets so they are distributed according to your wishes, contact us today.

We urge you to contact us at The Law Offices of Jack S. Johal. With over 35 years of experience and with an LL.M. in taxation, attorney Johal can help you reach your long-term goals, whatever they may be.

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