California’s Intestate Distribution System

As a probate lawyer in Los Angeles, from time to time I am hired to handle the estate of a Los Angeles resident who dies without a will. To pass property to heirs and beneficiaries in California after dying without a California will is called intestate succession.

California Probate Code Section 240 provides a system of property distribution when there is no California will. Probate Code Section 240 says:

If a statute calls for property to be distributed or taken in the manner provided in this section, the property shall be divided into as many equal shares as there are living members of the nearest generation of issue then living and deceased members of that generation who leave issue then living, each living member of the nearest generation of issue then living receiving one share and the share of each deceased member of that generation who leaves issue then living being divided in the same manner among his or her then living issue.

Assume, for example, that my Los Angeles client had two children, A and B, both of whom predeceased my client. A leaves three children who survive my client, and B leaves one child who survives my client. Neither A nor B had any children who predeceased my client. Under this fact context, Probate Code Section 240 will have the following result:

The estate is divided at the nearest generation having living members. Each of my client’s four grandchildren receives one-fourth of the class gift. (The share of a deceased grandchild who left issue surviving would be divided among the children of the deceased grandchild.)

If this or other California probate questions arise, discuss your situation with Los Angeles attorney Mitchell A. Port. Call 310.559.5259.