Losing a loved one because of a wrongful death can happen at the least expected times. Wrongful death can be caused by an accident or situation that could have been prevented had the proper measures been taken. Since wrongful death is a form of unexpected death, it is likely that the person who lost their life did not anticipate dying so soon and did not leave a will that discloses how they wish their property and belongings were to be distributed.
What happens when a person dies in a wrongful death case and has no will? Below, our experienced team of Los Angeles wrongful death attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers will break down who gets what in a wrongful death case when there is no will.
If you have lost a loved one due to a wrongful death caused by a negligent party and are seeking legal representation, we are available 24/7 to assist you with your case. With our track record of recovering over $1 billion in settlements for our clients, we are confident that we will deliver a good outcome to your case.
Beneficiaries and Shared Assets
There are certain assets that get distributed accordingly whether there was a will left or not. In the situation of these assets, there is usually a contract or prearranged agreement involved that determines the ownership of these assets. In most cases, the below-mentioned assets will go to listed beneficiaries or the shared owners of the assets. Here are the following assets that are already predetermined of who gets what when a person becomes deceased, whether they left a will or not:
Community Property vs Separate Property
There exist two different classifications of property that will be considered when distributing property of the deceased who has left no will: community property and separate property.
Community property refers to the property that is jointly owned by spouses or domestic partners legally bound by their marriage. Community property must be acquired during the course of the marriage. Some examples of community property include the following:
Separate property refers to other belongings that were acquired by one spouse before they married the other or that was specified for solely the one spouse and not the other. This can include belongings that the other inherited, was gifted, or kept separate throughout the marriage. The following are examples of shared property:
How Assets Are Divided Based on Survivors of the Deceased
Intestate succession laws help determine who gets what property when a person dies without a will. When there is no will to state exactly who gets what property, community property and separate property become divided according to the survivors of the deceased. These survivors may include spouses, children, parents, or descendants. If the deceased is survived by no one, the state then acquires the property. The following graph exhibits the intestate succession rules for the state of California:
Survived by Spouse and Children
Spouse: One-half of the deceased’s community property and one-half or one-third of their separate property
Children: One-half of the deceased’s community property and one-half or two-thirds of their separate property
The remaining property that is not granted to the spouse is given to the children.
Survived by Spouse
(No Descendants, Parents, or Siblings)
The surviving spouse inherits all of the deceased spouse’s property (including community, quasi-community, and separate property).
Survived by Spouse and Parent(s)
Spouse: Inherits all of the deceased spouse’s property and one-half of their separate property.
Parent(s): Inherits one-half of the deceased’s separate property.
Survived by a Spouse and Sibling(s)
(No Parents of Descendants)
Spouse: Inherits all of the deceased spouse’s community property and one-half of the deceased’s separate property.
Sibling(s): Inherits one-half of the deceased’s separate property.
Need a Wrongful Death Attorney? West Coast Trial Lawyers Can Help
If you have lost a loved one due to negligent actions committed by another party, our expert team of wrongful death attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers will help you recover compensation for damages you have suffered. This includes medical expenses, lost wages, emotional distress, pain and suffering, and more.