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Succession in California

Succession is the legal transfer of a person's interests in real and personal property to as an intestate and is said to die intestate. The laws of intestate succession governs the transfer of property from a decedent to an heir when the decedent fails to dispose of the property by will.

The probate code provides that any part of the estate of a decedent not effectively disposed of by will passes to the decedent's heirs as prescribed in this part.

If there is a surviving spouse, that spouse is entitled to a one-half share of the community property. The decedent's separate property is governed by a series of either-or provisions, depending upon whether the intestate decedent left a surviving spouse only or a surviving spouse and children and if neither of those, then to other relatives according to degree.

If there is no surviving spouse, the property shall be divided into as many equal shares as there are living members of the nearest generation of issue. Issue refers to the descendants of the testator.

California follows a per-stirpes model of distribution. Under per-stirpes the issue of a later generation are entitled to receive a share of an estate by right of representation when a member of an intervening generation dies before a member of the older generation whose property is being distributed.

If no one is identified, the property will escheat, or revert, to the state of California.

Do you have questions regarding creating a will or succession? If so, please contact Aziz Legal by phone at (408) 203-4627 or email us at

This article is merely informational and is not intended to be used as legal advice. Use of any information from this article is for general information only and does not represent personal legal or tax advice, either express or implied. Readers are encouraged to consult Aziz Legal, or another attorney, for any specific legal matters.

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