Will and TestamentThis is the first post in a series discussing what happens when one dies without a last will and testament in San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, or elsewhere in California. I am addressing this topic, because many in our County, and throughout the state, have a misconception about what happens when one dies without having prepared a will (otherwise known as dying “intestate”). My goal with this series is inform people on what to expect from the process.

I will be addressing a number of topics over my coming posts. Subjects I will look at include:

  • How California law handles the situation of one dying without a will
  • The process of probating an intestate estate
  • How heirs are determined in California when one dies without a will
  • Resolving property disputes when one has died without a will

These are important topics for several reasons. First, there are several misunderstandings about what happens to one’s belongings when they die intestate. Some believe that the family automatically “gets everything.” Others mistakenly believe that everything automatically goes to the state. As I will discuss, neither of these beliefs are correct. Second, the process of probating such an estate can be straightforward in some instances and complicated in others. Third, some do not know that they may have inheritance rights in an intestate estate. Finally, certain types of property will not even be included in the probate. I will address each of these issues over my coming posts.

I cannot stress enough that you should contact an attorney if a loved one has died without a will. Misperceptions about the process may lead to items being included in the probate when they should not be, items not being included when they should, and heirs either wrongfully being included or excluded. Hiring a qualified lawyer can ensure that the process goes smoothly and that things move along in an efficient manner.

Results vary based on facts, circumstances, and legal issues involved. All cases must be properly reviewed prior to determining applicable law and likely conclusion.

As a probate lawyer, I assist people throughout our area with intestate estates. Call my San Bernardino office today to speak with an attorney. We also service Rancho Cucamonga, Fontana, Ontario, Victorville, Rialto, Hesperia, Chino, Upland, Apple Valley, Redlands, Highland, Colton, Yucaipa, Montclair, elsewhere in the Inland Empire, as well as Los Angeles.

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