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When someone dies without a will, it’s known as dying intestate. In this case, the state in which the deceased dies will decide how assets are distributed. State law will distribute almost all assets of the estate, including money in bank accounts, retirement accounts, and securities, real estate, and property. According to local Santa Clarita elder care agencies, most states decide assets differently depending on whether the individual was married or single or had children. Here’s what you should know.
Some assets are never passed by a will, even if a will exists. This includes property in a living trust, life insurance proceeds, real estate and vehicles with a transfer-on-death (TOD) deed, funds in a payable-on-death account, funds in a retirement plan with a named beneficiary, and any assets held in joint tenancy or community property with right of survivorship.
Every state has laws that determine who inherits assets when someone dies intestate. In most cases, only spouses, domestic partners, and blood relatives can inherit under intestate laws. If the individual had no children, the surviving spouse typically receives everything. If the individual was married, the surviving spouse usually gets the greatest share of the assets. If there is no surviving spouse, the children typically get the largest share of the assets. Most states divide assets as equally as possible among children although it is the state that will decide what is fair. If there are no children, grandchildren, or a spouse, assets go to parents or siblings.
All states treat adopted children the same as biological children under intestate inheritance laws. Most states will not include stepchildren under the definition of “children” for an inheritance, which means stepchildren may be left out if the stepparent dies without a will. There are some states that will consider stepchildren although it sometimes depends on the relationship between the deceased and the stepchildren. Biological children who were adopted by an unrelated adult are excluded from the inheritance of the birth parents in most states.
If there are no children or spouse, more distant relatives like nieces, nephews, cousins, and uncles may be eligible to inherit property. If no relatives are found, the state will take the assets of the estate.
When estate planning, it’s also important to think about long-term care options in the event of injury, illness, or simply old age. To learn more about senior care in Santa Clarita, reach out to Home Care Assistance. Our live-in, hourly, and respite care in Santa Clarita is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, our caregivers are trained, bonded, and insured, and we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee. For more information, give us a call at 661.259.9914 today.